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Wichita PD chief reacts to Chauvin verdict, discussions on police reform

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 7:08 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - After Tuesday’s guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, conversations regarding police reform continue on the national and local levels. Locally, Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay said the verdict almost feels like a moment of reckoning and race relations. But Wichita’s NAACP chapter says there is more to be done.

George Floyd’s death last year inspired protests and was a catalyst nationwide for conversations about police reform. Since Floyd’s murder, Chief Ramsay said the WPD has created policies to ban chokeholds and has been more transparent with bodycam video following officer-involved shootings.

“Well, some of our practices were put into policy. Chokeholds were never taught or okay, it was put into policy,” he said.

Ramsay said he was disturbed when he first saw the video of the incident leading to Floyd’s death last year. He said it looked like murder and he believes justice prevailed in the jury’s conviction of Chauvin. Locally, he emphasized the importance of openly communicating with the people his department serves and protects.

“So for us, getting information out, meeting the with community, talking about what we’re doing. Even in the protests last year, you know, we took an approach that focused on de-escalation and not confrontation, but more working with those that wanted to express their First Amendment rights,” Ramsay said. “And we didn’t have the issues that other cities did. Even smaller cities a fourth of our size had significant issues, but we didn’t and I think a lot of it had to do with our strategy.”

Some police departments across the country have been intentional in improving race relations.

“Our police department is making, I believe, a good attempt at changing things from the way they used to be,” Ramsay said. “(Departments) recognize that there’s more training that needs to take place with their officers. There is an awareness at the leadership level that this is very important, because the things that have happened within our community, especially within our community and color, are things that need to change.”

Still, the Wichita NAACP believes more work needs done and is calling for more transparency and data from traffic stops and police encounters.

“(The) Wichita Police Department is doing a great job. I believe they still have a lot more work to do,” the organization said. “And we are hoping that that takes place because our community needs it, not only here in Wichita, but nationally, you know. The people of color are the victims of police actions gone wrong, and this thing, these things need to stop. They need to stop. There’s no other way to put it.”

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