Police chief gives update on community outreach initiatives

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay gives an update on a series of community initiatives that have taken place since a 2016 picnic that the department held in order to ease race issues that were developing in the community. (Travis Heying/The Wichi
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Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay gives an update on a series of community initiatives that have taken place since a 2016 picnic that the department held in order to ease race issues that were developing in the community. (Travis Heying/The Wichi
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Politics & Government

New Wichita police review board: what it can and can’t do

By Dion Lefler

dlefler@wichitaeagle.com

October 10, 2017 12:38 PM

The city of Wichita will create a Citizen’s Review Board to work with the police department.

Approval of the board came Tuesday from the Wichita City Council.

The new board will comply with state law requiring that the city have an outside panel to provide input on racial and biased-based police issues.

The board will consist of seven members. All members will have to pass a criminal background check, complete the department’s Citizen’s Police Academy and receive training in open-meetings and open-records law.

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The board replaces a city manager’s review board that has been largely dormant.

Here’s a look at what the new board will and won’t be able to do:

What it can do

▪ Advise the police department on policy, on request.

▪ Assist the police department with community outreach and education.

▪ Encourage dialogue between representatives of the community and the police department.

▪ Upon request, review cases where police officers have been disciplined for misconduct and advise on policy changes for the future.

▪ The board will have access to internal investigation files and relevant video, but with the names of disciplined officers removed.

What it can’t do

▪ The board will not act as an investigative body.

▪ Board deliberations will have no effect on any individual case of alleged officer misconduct.

▪ When the board reviews officer disciplinary actions, members will have to comply with a confidentiality agreement and could be prosecuted for releasing information or recommendations from closed sessions.

▪ The board will not have the power to subpoena information or to require officers to testify.

▪ The board can’t look at any active officer-discipline cases and will only be allowed to review case files after all possible appeals have been exhausted.