Summer killings, robberies & rape cases in Topeka fall below pre-pandemic levels, police report

Local News

TOPEKA (KSNT) – The majority of violent crime is down in Topeka for the summer; not just below 2020 levels, but 2019 as well, according to a new report from the Topeka Police Department.

The TPD Crime Analysts Team tracked confirmed cases of violent crime in Topeka from June 1 to July 27 for the past three years. The table below shows that over these months in 2021, the number of homicides, robberies and rape cases were all lower than in 2020 and 2019. Topeka has seen more recent aggravated batteries and assaults than 2019, but less than 2020. Combining all forms of violent crime shows that 2021 has seen less crime total than both previous years.

 TYPE OF CRIME201920202021
Aggravated battery/assault131163148
Statistics from Topeka Police Department

COVID-19 restrictions and precautions like social distancing lingered through summer 2020 in one form or another in Topeka. They hampered public interactions in June and July 2020 with reduced hours on bars, restaurants and nightclubs and other businesses like banks going to drive-thru only. While Shawnee County made plans to reopen bars, nightclubs and public pools among other social gathering opportunities in early June, it quickly cut back the operating hours nightlife businesses could have again after tying rises in coronavirus cases to them.

Kansas saw a brief decline of COVID-19 case numbers in June. They then picked up again through July before skyrocketing in late 2020, according to KSNT News’ state coronavirus data. Through this summer lull and the beginnings of a statewide surge, Topeka saw more aggravated batteries, assaults and killings than pre-pandemic 2019, even with the COVID-19 restrictions in place. Rape cases stayed mostly consistent with the previous year, increasing by one. While still 2021 still has double-digit numbers of robberies, this form of crime has seen a gradual downward trend since 2019.

The data doesn’t show or hypothesize any number of violent crime incidents that go unreported in the past three years. While the overall trend in violent crime appears to be going downwards, Topeka police have noted in 2021 that more of that crime that does happen involves younger people. TPD Chief Bryan Wheeles said June 15 his department saw three shootings in a span of days that hurt children.

Topeka has been self-aware of its crime problem for years, with police and community service groups both discussing ways to solve it. More recently, efforts to cut the city’s annual violent crime rates have included programs like “See Topeka,” letting people share security camera footage with police. March 2021 saw “Operation Frontier Justice,” a 10-day sting where police and U.S. Marshals teamed up to arrest 258 people and seize 24 guns in Topeka.

Topeka saw its deadliest year on record four years ago, with police confirming 29 killings in 2017. Violent crime trends both in Topeka and overall in Kansas pointed upwards from 2016 through 2018, but something changed in 2019 to start a downward trend, according to former TPD Chief Bill Cochran.

He thinks it was teamwork between police and the community.

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