Councilman raising concerns about WPD, city manager 3rd-party review

A report raises concerns about transparency for a Wichita City Council member.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 9:02 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - It’s been nearly two years since the investigation began involving Wichita Police Department officers sending inappropriate text messages. In response, the City of Wichita hired a third party company to look into WPD and the city managers handling of the investigation.

The city got the final report from the company but didn’t release it to the city council or the public. Wichita City Councilmember Jeff Blubaugh said he was concerned after not receiving a copy.

“[Wichita City Manager Robert Layton] said it was a draft copy, which I didn’t quite understand that, but he said they’d have to have a final copy before I could see it. And I asked what a timeline on that was and he informed me it needed to go to the mayor, Councilmember (Brandon) Johnson and other members of the diversity, equity and inclusion committee,” said Blubaugh. “All the city council, the mayor, we all have the same vote so we should all have the same information.”

It’s unknown what the final findings in the report says. The city said the only person who has the document is the assistant city manager.

Sources brought concerns to FactFinder 12 wondering if, since it’s a draft, could there be changes made to the document. Blubaugh said he asked Layton about this concern.

“I did ask if it goes to a committee first and we get it, how can I ensure that there wasn’t any changes? I’m a raw data guy, I like to see exactly what their conclusions were and to make my own interpretations instead of something being fine tuned,” said Blubaugh. “He informed me if there were any changes made to the document, those would be highlighted. But, again, I’m a little bit puzzled what changes we would make to that. He said maybe if a name was wrong or something like that.”

The city said changes will be made if there are technical inaccuracies.

The city council approved the third party company, Jensen Hughes, in August where it paid about $214,000. Blubaugh said it’s important for the taxpayers who paid for the report to know what’s in it.

“We’re the elected officials, we’re representing the public. I hope that we’re all getting the same information no matter what district we represent. Whether we’re the mayor or the city council. We’re all elected, we all represent the city. I think we should all be afforded the same information because we’re trying to make decisions,” said Blubaugh.