Community feedback meeting on police department touches on need for community policing

Wichita Police Department (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – The Wichita Police Department invited the public to attend the first of several community engagement meetings to discuss findings and recommendations from the department’s organizational assessment but were surprised at the low turnout.

James Roseboro, president of the Wichita Independent Neighborhoods, said they expected about 50 people to show up, but only about two dozen came to the meeting.

Those who did turn out as residents voiced their opinions on several issues

The issue that seemed to strike a chord with those who turned out was community policing.

“Community policing is something where the officers have to park that cruiser, get out and walk and get to know the teenagers, get to know whose doing what,” said David Brown, a concerned resident.

Roseboro says community policing was strong in the 1990’s and early 2000’s but is unsure why it has weakened over the years.

Still, he stressed the importance and need for community policing in Wichita.

“That is the biggest thing going on right now, it’s all across America, I think police departments are realizing they need to go to community policing, they need to get the police out of their cars and into the streets, ” said Roseboro.

The police department instituted community policing in 1994.

With the latest assessment, both the city and police department say there commitment to community policing is still there, but there is always room for improvement.

“There is a strong commitment on the part of the Mayor and the council and everyone who is involved in this for community policing to thrive here,” said Robert Layton, Wichita City Manager.

“Different neighborhoods around the city have different needs and we have to be able to respond to that and listen to those concerns,” said Hassan Ramzah, WPD Deputy Chief.

Still, some residents are unsure changes will be made quickly.

“If you are a concerned citizen you have to attend certain things like this, so that you voice your opinion, that’s what you’re here for,” said Brown.

The goals of the assessment were to

  1. Provide research for best practices,
  2. Engage internal and external stakeholders on strengths, concerns and a future direction for the department,
  3. Review policies, procedures and other aspects of the department, and
  4. Provide recommendations for hiring the next police chief.

The assessment included input from 195 employees and those who attended 22 stakeholder meetings.

Wednesday’s meeting was the first of four community engagement meetings to be held at locations of partnering organizations: Wichita NAACP, Sunflower Community Action, Wichita Independent Neighborhoods and Wichita Crime Commission.

Following are two more upcoming meetings:

March 10 March 25
NAACP
6:00 – 7:30 pm
Urban Prep Academy (Library)
2821 E. 24th Street
Sunflower Community Action
1751 N. Ash
6:00 – 7:30
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