Community comes out to ask police chief candidates questions

Joel Fitzgerald, Sr. (left) and Terri Moses (right) met with the media for a short Q&A session Monday morning. (KSN photos / Craig Andres)

WICHITA, Kansas – About 100 people showed up Monday to Century II to hear from the two candidates for Wichita’s next police chief, Terri Moses and Joel Fitzgerald. Bob Layton read questions from the community that were submitted ahead of time. Then community members who showed up got the chance to ask questions.

The forum was a tale of two different candidates. During the first section of the meeting, Fitzgerald got some pretty positive comments and reviews and lot of clapping form the crowd. He even left to a standing ovation.

On the flip side, Terri Moses didn’t get the same type of recognition that Fitzgerald did.

There were a lot of different questions from the crowd, many people asking about community policing and also about transparency when it comes to disciplining officer.

“Systematic issues of racism and profiling as well as bad apples among the active duty police force please describe how you would deal with these issues,” Bob Layton asked the candidates.

“I can tell you as someone who has personally been affected by that and someone who has been stopped without explanation at times I’m sensitive to it I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t,” Fitzgerald said.

Then came questions from the community.

“We don’t want to keep operating as we have, we want change, we want something different and out of all the community meetings that I’ve never seen you at I’m just trying to figure out what community meeting you was at because it wasn’t our’s,” said one attendee.

“If chosen as the next leader you put your stamp on the department and in the community what will your stamp say to the Wichita Police Department and to this community? ” asked another attendee.

Next up was Terri Moses. There was a shift in the tone and the questions asked to Moses.

“I think in your comments tonight you’ve made it very clear that you have no intention of making any change in the community at the end of the day for 32 years you’ve turned your cheek to the people who have been brutalized in this community,” said Djuan Wash.

“You’ll hear me say over and over again that functional conflict is a part of the problem solving process and that mean we have to have that hard conversation I’m not going to shy away from that hard conversation and I’ll be happy to meet with people and talk about what concerns them,” Terri Moses said.

As part of the process Bob Layton is asking people to fill out a survey card. He says he is going to take those comments into account when making his decision. Layton will make a decision on the department’s next leader in September.

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