FF12: WPD officers pulled from patrol to provide personal security for mayor

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 10:19 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - FactFinder 12 obtained emails showing the City of Wichita is pulling police officers from their normal patrol shifts to provide personal security for Mayor Brandon Whipple. The information follows reports that Whipple had at least one threat on social media after body cam footage captured a confrontation between him and a WPD officer.

FactFinder 12 wanted to know how the city handles personal security for officials by using Wichita police officers. The situation surrounding Whipple raised concerns from some that assigning officers to this type of security duty takes away from parts of the city, leaving police shifts understaffed.

The emails FactFinder 12 obtained have the subject line, “Mayor Security.” WPD supervisors said Whipple received a threat on social media and officers were being diverted to “sit off of” the mayor’s home. Initially, the plan was to have officers in front of the home from last Friday until Monday (Halloween). But as of Wednesday, patrol officers remained in front of Whipple’s home.

The city pulled the officers from patrol duty and are working three-hour security shifts over 24-hour periods at the mayor’s home, the emails confirm.

In the confrontation with a WPD officer that preceded the reported threat, the bodycam footage shows Whipple on the phone with the city manager after the officer told him he couldn’t dump trash from his rental property at a neighborhood cleanup event.

Those in line for the event said the mayor was trying to cut in line and went around a police barricade. Whipple said the police officer involved did not have his Axon body camera on initially and that during that time, the officer yelled at him.

From emails obtained concerning the security for the mayor, a supervisor said in all capital letters, “MAKE SURE OFFICERS’ AXONS ARE RUNNING DURING THEIR ENTIRE 3-HOUR PERIOD.”

Later, the city’s police interim chief advised to follow regular policy, which means officers only turn on the body camera when interacting with someone.

FactFinder 12 asked for the city’s policy on providing personal security for the mayor.

“Neither the City nor the Wichita Police Department will comment on personal security matters,” the city initially said.

We then asked if other city officials could receive private security because of threats.

“If a credible threat is made to electeds or any City employee related to fulfilling their duties to the City, standard protocol is for them to alert the Chief of Police and City Manager, who work to determine whether extra security is appropriate to ensure their safety,” the City of Wichita responded.

The City of Wichita and the WPD said they couldn’t provide more details about the threat against Whipple.

FactFinder 12 reached out to Whipple, asking if he’d like to comment on the situation. As of Wednesday night, he has not responded.