TOPEKA (KSNT) – With 2023 now the deadliest year on record in Topeka with 31 homicides, former police chief Bill Cochran says he believes community involvement is important and new programs need to be considered.
“Looking at 2023 I think one of the things that, you know, we need to continue, we need to get the community involved, we need to make sure law enforcement is working closely with community partners and look at different programs that are out there,” Cochran said. “Maybe some new programs. There’s a lot of things that are tried and true that come into play that work to help reduce violence and stuff.”
Along with working to reduce access to guns, Cochran believes another tactic that could help reduce violence is helping the community as a whole learn how to better work through difficult situations.
“One of the things that we had some conversations sometime back, and I think we probably need to revisit this as a community is de-escalation training for our society and people in our community,” Cochran said.
As for the many homicide victims that have involved minors, Cochran says having a relationship with the school system is the utmost importance.
“They have the young people eight hours out of the day,” Cochran said. “And, so, we really need to understand what’s going on that when they leave the school what’s happening. When their weekends when they’re not in school what’s taking place.”
With the spike in homicides, it has one Topeka mother worried for her own kids safety. So, she’s taking action.
“It makes me want to keep them home more, honestly,” Ali Stauffer said. “It makes me want to have them do school online and keep tabs on what they’re doing more often instead of letting them go and do whatever they want.”
In solidarity with the recent deaths, including many people under the age of 18 and multiple children, Stauffer has decided to host a vigil Tuesday, Oct. 17, that’s open to the community at Evergy Plaza.
“Having kids myself, I just want to show the families support,” Stauffer said. I don’t want to bug them, I don’t want to bother them in their time of grieving, I just want them to know that they’re not alone in their grieving and in their morning.”
Her goal for tomorrow is to bring people together for good.
“Just community togetherness,” Stauffer said, “Just, no violence, just a cease for the day, just to come together and support one another.”
Tuesday’s vigil at Evergy Plaza will go from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Stauffer says bring a candle if you plan to attend.