Wichita’s interim police chief voices support for independent review of department

The review would include community feedback, one-on-one interviews with WPD staff and data collection.
Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 4:41 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wichita’s interim police chief on Friday voiced his support for a third-party review of his department. The Wichita City Council at its next meeting Tuesday, Aug. 23, is expected to vote to approve the firm to conduct that review. This follows multiple investigations into Wichita police officers and Sedgwick County deputies sending inappropriate text messages.

A few months ago, when Wichita city leaders first publicly discussed the text-messaging scandal involving 13 officers, the city first said it would have an outside review of the police department. The review won’t be a reinvestigation of the text messages exchanged but will focus on what the City of Wichita and its police department can do to move forward.

“It should be an every-decade event that takes place, whereas our society grows, city government needs to adjust and grow with it,” Interim Wichita Police Chief Lem Moore said.

The chief said all the department’s records will be accessible and WPD employees will be available for interviews as part of the independent review.

The Wichita City Council next Tuesday, will take up an agreement with Jensen Hughes that would assess WPD’s culture, procedures and administrative practices. The review would include community feedback, one-on-one interviews with WPD staff and data collection.

“Hopefully, the third party is able to see if there are enhancements that need to be made within city government to be more efficient,” Moore said. “There are already some things that the city manager’s office and myself have already changed.”

He further explained his endorsement to the review.

“In recent investigations involving the Wichita Police Department, it is obvious that culturally, we have some growing to do,” Moore said. “It’s my goal as the leader of the Wichita Police Department to meet the expectations that citizens have for our department.”

Jensen Hughes has completed reviews of police departments across the U.S. Part of their review in Wichita could include what processes were in place when the inappropriate text messages were discovered and its handling within the city. Chief Moore said one area Jensen Hughes will look at is training and seeing if the education is being effectively applied when on the job.

“There are going to be some harsh realties that could be documented,” Moore said. “I’m hoping that it shows that out of 17,000 law enforcement agencies here in the United States, that the Wichita Police Department is in the high ranks.”

In addition to the final report and recommendations expected to be completed early next year, Jensen Hughes will provide monthly updates. Carrying out their report on WPD will be the responsibility of the department’s next chief. The search-and-select process for Wichita’s next police chief is expected to wrap up next month.