Kan. governor calls for review of DCF policies, procedures after Cedric Lofton death
TOPEKA, Kan. (KWCH) - After directing the Department for Children and Families to investigate the case surrounding 17-year-old Cedric Lofton’s death, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly discussed what she’s hoping to see from that review.
Lofton died in September after being held on his stomach for more than 30 minutes inside Sedgwick County’s Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC).
The teen was taken there after an altercation with police at his foster father’s home. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said the father called police on the advice of a private foster care agency that contracts with the Department for Children and Families (DCF) to investigate the case.
Kelly said she wants this investigation into Lofton’s death. to look at the policies and procedures in place and whether they were followed.
Lofton was taken to the Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC) after the foster agency initially told Lofton’s foster father to call the police and transport the teen to a hospital for a mental-health evaluation.
“It’s absolutely imperative. We need to do a really, very clear review,” Kelly said.
The governor said based on what the DCF investigation finds, that will determine next steps, including any policy changes.
“This is a kid who should have been in a mental-health facility, not in jail,” Kelly said. “So, we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
For Kansas Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau, the state review is warranted.
“We [Lofton] let him don and we need to fix it,” she said.
Faust-Goudeau said the legislature has been discussing the foster care system for years but hasn’t seen much action.
“Unfortunately, the death of Cedric Lofton might be the catalyst,” she said.
One area Faust-Goudeau said is worth discussing is better communication between foster agencies, police and COMCARE to better assess the needs of children and prevent situations like what led up to Lofton’s death. The state senator said she is talking with other lawmakers and wants to see Kansas’ “stand your ground” law revisited.
“(I have) utmost respect for [Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett], I do. I think for the most part, he tries to do a great job. But in this situation, I just think it’s wrong to use ‘stand your ground,’” Faust-Goudeau said of Bennett’s explanation for not filing charges in the case.
Faust-Goudeau said she’s drafting a bill that would make the video at a facility like JIAC available to someone’s family and attorney after an incident. That requirement is already in place for police body-camera footage.
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