Wichita Mayor, city council back third-party investigation into HR, WPD

Former Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay sent a letter to Mayor Brandon Whipple on Wednesday calling for an independent investigation in the HR department.
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 1:54 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - UPDATE: The Wichita Branch NAACP has responded to the former WPD Chief’s Statement.

The group is urging Mayor Whipple and the rest of the Wichita City Council to vote on a possible third-party investigation at the next council meeting.

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Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple is responding to a letter written by former Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay. In that letter, Ramsay suggests there is more going on at city hall, and the mayor and council should hire an independent firm to look into unethical behavior by the human resources department and its director, Chris Bezruki.

Whipple said he regrets his initial reaction to the letter in which he called Ramsay a disgruntled former employee. But, he said he felt blindsided.

“I feel like my tone was reflective through the initial conversations I had. Yeah, I’m not perfect. So, beyond the tone, I agree with Ramsay when it comes to taking a deeper dive into multiple departments,” said the mayor.

Ramsay’s letter references the City of Wichita’s investigation into racist text messages sent by some Wichita police officers and Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputies. He suggests that the city hire an independent firm to investigate. Whipple said that’s going to happen.

“If we find out that the racism and homophobic text messages that were promoting violence against people of color that originated in the police department that was somehow still supported by HR or other members of staff, we will treat them the same way as anyone who is violating our policies and being unbecoming of what our city culture promotes,” said the mayor.

Several city council members say they also support an independent investigation into what’s been happening within the departments at city hall.

Councilmember Jeff Blubaugh released a statement saying, “for almost a decade I have had multiple transparency issues between the City Manager (Robert Layton) and City Council as to issues at City Hall. I plan to dig deeper into these allegations upon my return and would support investigations and audits into several Internal Departments within the City.”

Councilmember Mike Hoheisel said he fully supports the outside investigation not only looking at this individual incident but all related areas pertaining to the culture of City Departments and WPD in general.

“We need to provide transparency and accountability to the citizens of Wichita. That is what they deserve,” said Hoheisel. “We cannot improve ourselves and correct our mistakes if we cannot recognize what they are. I don’t care about finger-pointing or hearsay. The only thing I’m interested in at the present time is the truth.”

Councilmember Becky Tuttle said the accusations made by former Chief Ramsay are troubling and need to be fully reviewed.

“I am committed to working with the independent review consultant, my fellow Council members, and staff to assure the community that we get the answers we need and that the proper actions are implemented,” she said.

And, Friday morning, Council Brandon Johnson issued a letter of his own, calling the situation “troubling” and vowing to get to the bottom of the issue to “ensure truth is available to all we serve.”

“Rather than take any side without the totality of information, I am committed to working with my fellow Council Members to ensure that the departmental review is thorough, not exclusive to just one thing or area and that these new items are included.”

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