City officials respond to WPD transparency concerns

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita city leaders are responding to concerns regarding transparency in the Wichita Police Department.

Wichita Police Department spokesperson, Officer Charley Davidson first responded to allegations on October 13.  The media report alleged that the department covered up an accident in 2016 involving an off-duty police officer, saying she had been drinking and driving, sideswiped a car and drove off without stopping.

“The traffic case involving a Wichita police officer referenced in a media report, was presented last year to the Office of the District Attorney, which declined prosecution, said Davidson on October 13, during a daily media briefing. “The allegations in the article are based on a false premise and are inaccurate. The issues raised are not consistent with Chief Ramsay’s visions and are contrary to the reforms and the changes he has initiated since arriving last year.”

City Manager Robert Layton was the first city official to come to publicly support Chief Ramsay and the department. He spoke at an October 16 media briefing with the WPD.

“The city of Wichita, including Chief Ramsey and the department have indeed made commitments to be transparent with our community. That does not override our obligation also to protect the privacy of our employees,” said Layton. “Rome was not built in a day but I think the Chief has a good running start.”

KSN reached out to city leaders, including Mayor Jeff Longwell, to get their responses. While each showed support for the chief, they gave a more measured response in regards to the initial allegations of an investigation in a specific officer.

“I have full confidence with Ramsay and his ability to put in place the procedures that will help build public confidence,” said Longwell in a statement. “No comment on any investigations as I have not been briefed on type or scope of any ongoing investigations.”

“It would not be responsible or appropriate to comment about ongoing investigations other than to say I know Chief Ramsay is taking these matters seriously. In the short time he has been our Chief of Police, Ramsay has operated with openness, communication and accountability,” said Bryan Frye, Wichita City Council. “He’s committed to transparency as is the department, the city manager and the council.”

“I don’t know the full details surrounding these issues; however I do believe these are isolated incidents and not a reflection of WPD as a whole,” said Jeff Blubaugh, Wichita City Council. “My experience with WPD is we are fortunate to have good police officers and our community is overall supportive of WPD. I have complete confidence in Chief Ramsey’s leadership and he has my support in ensuring these issues as well as future incidents will be handled fairly and with the utmost transparency.”

KSN did reach out to all city council members for a response. Pete Meitzer and James Clendenin did not respond to emails and calls to their offices. The offices of Janet Miller and Lavonta Williams said both are out of the country on a Sister Cities trip to China and were unavailable for immediate comment.


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