WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – When Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay took over the department in January, he made it clear that community policing was of the utmost importance.
Back in February 2015, Wichita State University released its assessment of the police department.
It gave the department recommendations on how they can improve their relationship with the community.
Today, Ramsay went over a detailed progress report dealing with the assessment, saying they have made progress.
Ramsay says the department has been heavily involved in the community.
“We have been busy attending many of the different neighborhood meetings operated throughout the city and have attended over 50 to date, we did the neighborhood cookouts where we had officers really focusing on reengaging for the community,” said Ramsay.
Those in the community, like Brandon Johnson have taken notice.
Johnson is the Executive Director of CORE, Community Operations Recovery Empowerment.
“Those opportunities he’s presented through the barbecues, the subsequent cookouts other patrols have had have offered those opportunities for the dialogue, which is the most important piece,” said Johnson.
Ramsay says one effort is to reach out to several communities in Wichita.
After the Orlando shooting, he assigned two officers to regularly attend meetings with the LGBT community.
Ramsay also formed an Hispanic Advisory Board, a Spanish Facebook Page, Spanish news briefings and assigned an officer to be a liaison for the Hispanic community.
That targeted outreach is something Johnson feels is important.
“I think in the past WPD and this Hispanic community had had some issues because there was no outreach, there are also some fears in the Hispanic community in regard to law enforcement and ICE and things like that, so it is great for the department to reach out,” said Johnson.
Ramsay says community policing is helped by the department being staffed at the highest level in seven years.
Johnson feels more officers are needed to allow for more community policing, but says the department doesn’t have to wait to get the ball rolling.
“We’re moving in the right direction, again I think community policing can happen now,” said Johnson.
While Johnson is pleased by the progress from the assessment, he has some concerns, mainly with transparency.
He touched on the Community Advisory Board.
It’s something he says could make the community really happy or really skeptical of police, depending on how it is implemented.
It’s one thing Ramsay says is still a work in progress, saying they are about six to eight months away from a solid plan.