Fraternal Order of Police responds to review of disciplined WPD officers
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The City of Wichita’s internal review of misconduct of 12 Wichita police officers is finished. The review board consisted of eight representatives of the city, including Wichita’s assistant city manager. A four-page document outlines what the committee found when looking at the investigation into inappropriate text messages between Wichita police officers.
The internal review committee said the Wichita Police Department didn’t punish officers enough for sending racist, homophobic and sexist text messages.
On Thursday, Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President David Inkelaar released a statement regarding the findings of a committee that reviewed how officers involved in a group that shared inappropriate texts were disciplined. In the statement, the FOP denies any involvement in the discipline of the officers and suggests that some city leaders may have known about the texts longer than they’ve admitted to. The full statement Inkelaar released is below.
As the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, which represents more than 650 hardworking Officers of the Wichita Police Department, we can no longer sit in silence as the City of Wichita Department and the Wichita Police Department try to move the blame for their poor leadership and decision-making to the FOP.
It is very clear the Wichita Police Department conducted its own investigation and came to its own conclusions as to whether it believed that discipline was warranted and if so, to what level. The FOP does not have the power or ability to make disciplinary decisions. Let me set the facts straight.
The FOP was first told about the text message investigation by Deputy Chief Salcido, who said that there was a big investigation into the SWAT team, and it was going to make national news. Chief Gordon Ramsay would later talk about the investigation with one of the employees and the employee reached back out to the FOP.
The Officers were interviewed in reference to the administrative investigations, around June of 2021. The FOP learned that the criminal search warrant was used in the investigation to obtain information beyond the scope of the search warrant. The FOP was also told that the city was possibly using the search warrant illegally.
When the investigation began, the FOP did ask to see the search warrant and to see what information the city could download. The Police Department refused to show the search warrant that was used to download the text messages. The FOP, through counsel, then contacted the City of Wichita Law Department, Labor Relations Counsel Van Haley, and asked to see the warrant. This contact occurred in October of 2021 and shows that the City of Wichita Law Department was aware of the nature of the investigation in 2021. The Law Department advised the FOP to get a court order and only then would they produce the search warrant. The FOP did not take the matter to court to get a court order. The administrative investigation continued, and the FOP acted pursuant to its role under Kansas labor law and under the contract to represent employees during their interviews.
The FOP did not interfere with the investigation, but when Chief of Police Gordon Ramsay and Deputy Chief Pinkston asked what our concerns were, we told them. At no time did the FOP threaten or attempt to manipulate Chief Gordon Ramsay, Deputy Chief Pinkston, or Deputy Chief Salcido’s decision on the investigation. Nor did the FOP have any influence on the discipline. It was the choice of Chief Ramsay, Deputy Chief Pinkston or Deputy Chief Salcido to issue written warnings. After the discipline was imposed, the FOP chose not to grieve it. The FOP only acts to ensure that that the investigation is factual, fair and without disparate treatment.
The FOP was later told by Chief Gordon Ramsay, Deputy Chief Pinkston, and Deputy Salcido of the Police Department that the decision was being made that a large majority of the individuals who were investigated were receiving “coaching and mentoring”. The FOP would later see that individuals were getting disciplined for Non-Discipline Educational Training WPD regulation 3.207 (B), which states “Members of the Department shall use good judgement in all situations”. The FOP had never seen this type of discipline, and it is not included in the contract. The limited influence the FOP had over the City’s imposition of discipline in this matter is reflected in the Department’s attempt to invent an entirely new category of discipline. This is contrary to the Contract and the FOP has grieved it.
In the matter of the Sergeant who was investigated and called in by Deputy Chief Salcido, that Sergeant was told that he was getting a written reprimand for “poor Judgement”. That Sergeant called his FOP representative and said he was going to sign the discipline paperwork. The FOP was not consulted or talked to about this decision. This is the common practice; discipline is based on the Department’s judgment, not the FOP’s.
We find it alarming that the City of Wichita’s “investigation” would jump to the assumption of interference from the FOP, but no one from the city has called to ask us any questions. We question the objectivity of a report that places significant importance on an allegation that “was not verified.” This is despite the fact that the FOP offered to provide information relevant to the committee’s investigation when, on April 6th, I sent an email to Donte Martin and Robert Layton asking for an opportunity to address questions that had been raised about the FOP’s involvement.
The City of Wichita never answered us and never made any attempt to meet and ask us questions. I must reiterate that the FOP does not have any input on disciplinary decisions. Those decisions are made entirely by Department Leadership, not the FOP. As stated before, the FOP’s role is simply to represent officers who are investigated and, when necessary, pursue grievances. The FOP’s experience has been that, even when appropriately addressed through the grievance and arbitration process, the City has been quite reluctant to alter discipline at the behest of the FOP.
/s/ David Inkelaar
City leaders say it’s up to Interim WPD Chief Lem Moore on whether the officers involved should face additional discipline. But that could result in legal action from the FOP since those cases are already closed.
Most of the officers involved in the texting scandal received “coaching and mentoring” as punishment. The FOP says it’s never heard of that type of discipline before.
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