Wichita police prepared for NCAA tournament

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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) -- The Wichita Police Department is ready for the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament.

Open practices for the eight teams coming to Wichita begin on Wednesday. Games start on Thursday.

Dep. Chief Troy Livingston said the department has been preparing for the event for months. He expects the tournament to bring 15,000-25,000 people to INTRUST Bank Arena and to downtown Wichita.

"We understand this brings an increase of people to the core area and around the area as well, and this poses some traffic and safety concerns," said Livingston. "We've had some people ask us about security."

Officers will be divided into four zones. Thirty officers will work the morning shift. Forty officers will cover second shift and work until about 2 or 3 a.m. to make sure everyone stays safe.

"Our operational plan will be in effect during the times of the games and well into the late night and early morning hours," said Livingston. "We realize there will be a lot of activities going on in the Old Town area after the game."

Bars in Old Town, like Heroes, have their own security measures covered.

"For this type of the event, during the games, we're probably looking at two to six tops," said manager Austin Vanpielt. "In the evening, when it's Friday or Saturday, we always have more security than that."

But this week, he expects lines out the door.

"We're just wanting basically to let people know it's a safe environment," said Vanpielt. "We want to make sure people who consume alcohol are 21 and older. Really, we're not expecting anything to be concerned about."

Livingston likened this week's coverage to the Wichita River Festival. He said officers will be in the area on foot, bicycle, horseback, their patrol vehicles and even ATV.