Search committee member offers insight into Wichita police chief finalists

Mario Knapp from Miami-Dade County and Joseph Sullivan from Philadelphia are the two candidates in the running for Wichita's next police chief.
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 6:16 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The City of Wichita is going on seven months without a permanent police chief following Gordon Ramsay’s resignation in March. Months of searching narrowed the search to lead the department down to two candidates. A day after the City of Wichita identified the two police chief finalists, 12 News reached out to members of the citizens search committee that have been part of the process to fill the leadership vacancy.

A search committee member who sat down with 12 News senior reporter Shawn Loging said police chief finalists, Mario Knapp and Joseph Sullivan are well-qualified to lead the WPD.

Harvey Sorensen, a Wichita attorney and chair for the Wichita Police Foundation Board, is one of 10 members on the police chief search committee. When it comes to finding Wichita’s next police chief, he said there were three things he was especially looking for.

“Community relationships, transparency and innovation,” Sorensen said.

Knapp and Sullivan each come with decades of law enforcement experience.

Knapp retired from the Miami Dade Police Department in 2021 with the rank of Major. He then went on to work as the vice president of training for Wrap Technologies, which makes specialized restraint systems for law enforcement use. He’s also been running a tactical rappelling training company.

“When there was a problem, they need(ed) somebody to solve it, his bosses called on him,” Sorenson said. “I thought that was very impressive. So, I think he has a very impressive background in terms of the variety of things that he’s done.”

Sullivan, if selected, would come to Wichita from Philadelphia. He retired from Philadelphia’s police department in 2020 as deputy commissioner. He also runs a charity to support families and children of fallen first responders. After leading the Philadelphia Police Department, Sullivan works for a company selling body armor and personal protection equipment.

“He really has an impressive community relations background in what he’s done and the communities that he was responsible for,” Sorenson said. “He’s particularly proud of his effort to get the LGBTQ community.”

During his time with each candidate, Sorenson said he thinks both would do a job of laying out their principles and priorities within the department and showing that to the community.

“We spent a lot of time talking about principles and principle of training,” Sorenson said. “How you train people and how you train the community, those are both different things that need to be done.”

The City of Wichita hired Public Sector Search and Consulting in March for the police chief search. The contract was not to exceed $48,000 with up to an additional $10,000 for expenses. You can find a timeline of the search process at wichita.gov/wpdchiefsearch.

Residents will have an opportunity to meet the candidates and ask questions at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 11 in Lotus Hall at Botanica, 701 Amidon St at a police candidate forum.