Former Philadelphia deputy commissioner named Wichita’s new police chief

After nearly eight months, the city of Wichita will have a new police chief.
Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 3:52 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - After nearly eight months, the city of Wichita will have a new police chief. On Tuesday, Joseph Sullivan was appointed to lead the Wichita Police Department.

Sullivan comes to Wichita from Philadelphia where he retired from the local police department in 2020 as deputy commissioner. After leading the Philadelphia Police Department, he moved on to work for a company that sells body armor and personal protection equipment. Sullivan also runs a charity to support families and children of fallen first responders.

Sullivan and Mario Knapp were the two finalists for the position that was vacated by former police chief Gordon Ramsay in March 2022. Last week, they heard from Wichita community members during a forum at Botanica. Both men said their experience in bigger cities could be used to lead Wichita.

“I’m looking forward to working in a department that does have some challenges, that will take some work to fix,” Sullivan said. “I think the experience that I have garnered over many years in Philadelphia gives me the experience I need to take on these challenges.”

Sullivan said one of his key approaches to building relationships between police and the public is community outreach and he intends to do that in Wichita.

“Meeting every community throughout the city of Wichita and engaging with all the residents and getting everyone’s perspective, understanding their priorities, listening, to think what we do well and what we need to do better,” he said.

Touching on recent controversy with the Wichita Police Department with an internal investigation investigation into racist, sexist and homophobic text messages sent and shared by members of the department, Sullivan said he’s heard from officers who are ready and willing to change.

“I visited several districts and I really was encouraged by that, really encouraged by the willingness to change. They’re open to some change and I think I can bring that,” Sullivan said.

In a news release announcing Sullivan’s appointment, the City of Wichita said he’ll start in early December and will have an annual salary starting at $210,000.

“He will manage a $108 million budget and supervise more than 900 employees in the state’s largest police department,” the city said.

The city said Sullivan plans to strengthen community policing and increase citizen engagement with the WPD.

“Joe Sullivan has a proven ability to successfully lead and manage a world-class police department. I have every confidence that he is the right person at the right time to take on the challenging task of ensuring Wichita residents have trust in the integrity and transparency of our police department,” said City Manager Robert Layton. “His experience in patrol leadership will help us as we work to enhance patrol operations. He joins us at a crucial time for the Wichita Police Department and will help guide us through a period of change. I look forward to welcoming him to Wichita.”