City’s punishment called into question concerning inappropriate texts from WPD officers

New developments come concerning text messages sent by some Wichita police officers.
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 10:37 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - New developments come Monday night into text messages sent by some Wichita police officers. The city promised the public it would look into harsher punishment for those officers for sending racist texts, but Eyewitness News uncovered information that calls the city’s punishment into question.

On July 21, Interim Wichita Police Department Chief Lem Moore and City Manager Robert Layton talked about their internal investigation and additional punishment for the officers accused of sending the inappropriate text messages.

During a briefing, they talked about three officers who were no longer with the department. But now, those three say them leaving had nothing to do with this investigation.

“I have provided the media a detailed copy of each investigation, as well as my discipline report,” Moore said on July 21.

The City of Wichita and Chief Moore conducted their own internal investigation into the 13 police officers involved in racist, sexist and homophobic texts sent by some WPD officers and Sedgwick county Sheriff’s deputies.

The WPD first investigated the officers last summer and those officers were later disciplined. The text messages were made public in March, which prompted a second city investigation. While describing the latest punishment, Chief Moore also said three officers were no longer with the department.

“WPD Officer K terminated his employment with the Wichita Police Department. Officer B terminated his employment with WPD. WPD Officer D terminated his employment with WPD,” Moore said.

The three “terminated their employment,” which means they could have resigned or retired. Eyewitness News spoke with those three officers who said the press conference from July 21 made it seem like they left the department due to the investigation. They said that is not true.

The officers wanted to remain anonymous, so we’ll refer to them as Officers “A,” “B,” and “C.” Records show “Officer A” was with WPD for 27 years. He was suspended for two days for texts calling former WPD Chief Gordon Ramsay a “tool.” He said he retired last November to take another job outside the department, and it had nothing to do with the text investigation.

“Officer B” was with WPD for 15 years and also retired last November, a couple of weeks after “Officer A.” He said he was going to retire well in advance of the text message investigation and took a job in a different career field. He said his decision to leave had nothing to do with the text investigation.

“Officer C” was with WPD for 11 years and retired in July 2021. He said he gave his two-weeks notice before knowing about the texting investigation. He said he was also taking a job outside the department, and it had nothing to do with the text investigation.

All three officers said this is important to note because each retired in 2021. The city’s second investigation regarding more punishment in connection with the inappropriate text messages didn’t happen until 2022.

Eyewitness News has been in contact with the City of Wichita, asking if City Manager Layton or Chief Moore would like to give a statement or sit down for an interview. We were told to expect a statement Tuesday. In addition, the city said it will bring in an outside firm to look at, not only the current text message investigation, but also the Wichita City Manager’s Office and HR department regarding how they handled the investigation.

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