Mayoral candidates react to near record high murder rate

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The city of Topeka is on pace to have a record number of murders in 2017. In 1994, there were 28 murders. There have been 24 so far this year, which has many people asking what can be done.

Ramon Noriega spent the last 23 years of his life in prison. In 1993 he was convicted of aggravated first degree murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.

He was granted parole four months ago, so I asked him what should be done to curb violent crime in Topeka.

“I’d like to say education, but you see sometimes even the smartest people do some of the dumbest things,” said Noriega.

“We are trying really hard to establish good relationships between Topeka Police and the community,” said Topeka City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Michelle De La Isla.

De La Isla said there is tension between Topeka Police and the community. The Topeka Police Department opened a second office on 29th Street for people who are not comfortable being seen at the downtown station.

“One of the most heartbreaking things is when we’re interviewing families and somebody in the family knew that something was going to happen or somebody knew that there was a behavior that was not normal and people just don’t talk,” said De La Isla.

However, De La Isla said it’s going to take more than law enforcement to curb the trend of violence in Topeka. Mayoral candidate Spencer Duncan agrees.

“We need a task force, not just of law enforcement, but of citizens that can spend time talking about community solutions we can put into effect,” said Duncan.

Duncan said we need to strengthen our mental health services and recidivism programs. It’s recidivism programs that Noriega said helped get his parole granted and hopefully will help keep him on the right path.

KSNT News reached out to other members of the Topeka City Council and the interim police chief for comment on this story, but never heard back.



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