City manager Robert Layton voiced his support for Wichita police chief Gordon Ramsay on Monday. Courtesy photo
City manager Robert Layton voiced his support for Wichita police chief Gordon Ramsay on Monday. Courtesy photo

Kirk Seminoff's Pivot Point

Community engagement editor Kirk Seminoff blogs about news and issues in Wichita and Kansas.

Pivot Point

It’s not about Chief Ramsay’s integrity

By Kirk Seminoff

October 16, 2017 12:02 PM

Wichita city manager Robert Layton said Monday that calling into question the integrity of police chief Gordon Ramsay is inappropriate.

He didn’t refer to The Eagle Editorial Board by name, but I’m guessing he’s talking about our weekend editorial.

Problem is, we didn’t question Ramsay’s integrity. Actually, it’s much the opposite.

We think Ramsay has integrity. We’ve been impressed overall with his ideas and leadership in 20 months as Wichita’s police chief.

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But we will still call him out when we think his department isn’t backing up his pledge of transparency. It has come up short lately.

Most recently was a refusal to provide information about an off-duty officer’s hit-and-run accident with another motorist more than a year ago. A police report named her as the driver, then days later the report was changed to driver “unknown.” She was fired, then back on the job four days later, according to a police spokesman. The FBI is investigating.

Because another agency is investigating, Layton said, the police can’t comment. (Except to say Friday our story was inaccurate and based on a flawed premise. Hey, isn’t that commenting?)

The city approved, then denied, The Eagle’s open-records request for body camera footage from the Sattar Ali arrest at an Emprise Bank branch in September, when his $151,000 check couldn’t be verified. Layton cited an ongoing investigation. (Yet Sedgwick County, with the blessing of Wichita police, released the 911 tape of Emprise Bank’s phone call.)

Layton committed Monday to police speaking with the media and public “at an appropriate time” about the off-duty officer’s case. We’ll hold him to that. It’s a personnel matter, but one that’s important to sustain the trust of a community that wants to be assured off-duty officers are given no better treatment than all Wichitans.

Kirk Seminoff: 316-268-6278, @kseminoff