Community members come out to hear from police chief candidates

Finalists announced for Wichita Police Chief position. Gordon Ramsay (l), Jeff Spivey (r).

WICHITA, Kansas – Wichitans got a chance to ask the two chief of police finalists questions about who they are and how they would lead the largest police force in the state.

It was the second public forum to vet candidates this year, but these were new candidates after the previous finalists did not pan out.

City leaders say they were expecting a slightly larger crowd of about 100 people who showed up for a similar public forum back in August.

The crowd was actually just a little bit smaller Monday night. And while the faces of those on the stage changed since the summer, the concerns from the community were very similar.

Many of those who came out asked questions about what the candidates would do with body camera footage and how to handle issues like racial profiling and police brutality.

Dozens of community members with a stake in the city’s next chief came out to hear what the candidates had to say about a variety of issues like what to do with body camera footage.

“It’s clear at the national incidents the community members want to see the video so I will follow state law and policies that are set forth by the city,” said candidate Gordon Ramsay.

And how would the candidates handle disciplining officers with multiple citizen complaints?

“You start with the lowest form of discipline when an officer begins to get those complaints and so you try to address it from complaint number one through coaching and mentoring through training and try to figure out what is going on with that officer why are they getting these kind of complaints at the getting,” said candidate Jeff Spivey.

“One of the first things I did in my current department was put forward a robust early intervention system that tracks all use of force by officers. It flags them when they are above the norm, it flags them when they’re above the threshold you set for use of force, for complaints, for sick leave. It’s an intricate system that helps flag issues before they become a problem,” Ramsay said.

Both finalists are outsiders and have no ties to Wichita. That’s something people who came out to this forum and stood in line to ask question say they wanted. It also creates new challenges for the candidates.

“It tells me that there some frustration taking root and people are truly ready for that kind of change, so it gives me an opportunity to really come in and present some new ideas to start that change process and build on that momentum that looks like is ready to just explode,” Spivey said.

Jeffery Spivey, Assistant Chief of Police, Irving, Texas since 2011
LINK | Irving Police Department bio page

In his 28-year career in law enforcement, Spivey has won multiple awards while serving in diverse assignments of increasing responsibility. After starting as a patrol officer, he served in investigations and narcotics. He served as division command of patrol and technical services and as Assistant Chief in charge of field operations and administrative services bureaus. Among his recent duties, Spivey led technology acquisitions including body-worn cameras, and software for predictive policing, facial recognition, and e-citation. He developed and currently teaches a program designed to reshape the culture of law enforcement. Spivey has focused on building relationships and trust in the community, serving as chairman of the Citizen’s Training Advisory Board and holding quarterly meetings with the City’s Cultural Advisory Committee. He played a key role in developing a nationally-recognized law and public service curriculum for the local school district, which helped create a natural pipeline of minority applicants from the community to the police department. Spivey has a master’s degree in criminal justice leadership and management from Sam Houston State University (2011) and a bachelor’s degree of applied arts and science from Midwestern State University (2007). He graduated from the FBI National Academy (2013). Irving, population 228,653, is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

“They have both worked with body-worn camera policies and implementation, intelligence-based policing, extensive work in community policing, and also have both been involved in strategic planning inside a police department,” continued Layton.

“Because of their backgrounds, I think that you’re going to find they match up very well in those key areas,” he said. “Whether it’s implementation of body-worn cameras, whether it’s issues with transparency, issues dealing with communication in the community and community policing.”

Layton says the goal is still to have a chief announced before the end of 2015.

Gordon Ramsay, Chief of Police, Duluth, Minnesota since 2006
LINK | Duluth Police Department bio page

Ramsay has been a police officer for 22 years, winning multiple awards. He heads a department with a $25 million budget and more than 200 employees. Ramsay has extensive experience in community policing and relationship building. He has worked with diverse groups including NAACP, American Indian Commission, Native Alliance, and African-American Men’s Group to create Duluth’s first police civilian review board. Under Ramsay’s leadership the department has received high marks from residents in recent surveys, as well as recognition from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in 2012 and 2013 for community policing efforts. He is past President of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and immediate past General Chair of the Mid-Size Agency Section of IACP. He has a master’s degree in management from the College of St. Scholastica (2004) and a bachelor’s degree in criminology and sociology from the University of Minnesota-Duluth (1994). He graduated from the FBI National Academy (2005). Duluth, population 90,000, is the urban hub city of a metropolitan area of 280,000.

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