WPD chief: Injured officer improving, shooting part of bigger issue impacting departments across country

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 5:46 PM CDT

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In a Monday afternoon news briefing, Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay said the officer, injured in a shooting on a call Saturday night, remains in critical condition at a local hospital, but his prognosis is improving. Ramsay said the officer, with the WPD for five years, was shot in the head and the legs. The chief said his recovery will take considerable time and it’s unknown if the officer will ever make a full recovery.

Ramsay on Monday afternoon said Saturday night’s officer-involved shooting in which the WPD officer was injured and a suspect killed, was one of several shootings over the weekend in Wichita. He said the overall increase in violent crimes, not just in Wichita, is an issue that needs to be resolved.

“Chiefs around the country are all saying the same thing that something has happened societally that is causing people to immediately resort to solving conflict through the use of guns,” the WPD chief said.

Over the weekend, Ramsay said there were seven shooting events in which nine people were wounded.

“I think these are the results of failures in our society and we need to take a look deeper at doing everything we can,” he said.

Wichita police said the officer injured on the Saturday night call in southwest Wichita arrived as backup at a house following a domestic violence call when he was shot and injured by 28-year-old Tyler Hodge, shot and killed on the call. Ramsay said events like this leave physical and mental scars.

“(This is) going to impact these officers the rest of their career, but we also know this impacted the entire neighborhood,” Ramsay said in Monday afternoon’s briefing. “I just spoke with a neighbor who was traumatized by what had occurred.”

The Wichita Fraternal Order of Police addressed how it responds to incidents in which officers are injured or killed in the line of duty.

“(It feels) like a rollercoaster where you’ve lost your stomach and then it’s instantly, ‘what can I do to help?’” Fraternal Order of Police - Wichita Lodge No. 5 Spokesperson Steve Jerrell said.

Part of fraternal order’s organization includes the Honore Adversis Foundation which provides officers injured or killed in the line of duty or off duty and the officers’ families with resources in the immediate aftermath.

“(Sunday), we dropped a check off at the hospital. We dropped off some gift cards at the hospital to help with food, any type of expenses,” Jerrell said.

Jerrell said oftentimes, there are family members coming in from out of town needing help with airfare and hotels and other basic needs. The main goal is to provide officers and their families with one less thing to worry about.

“Tell them, ‘this is what we can help you with,’” Jerrell said. “You can settle the stress drop and that’s what we want.

In times like this, Jerrell said it’s not just about law enforcement being there for one of their own, it’s a way where the community can help.

“Most people get into law enforcement because they want to help people.” Jerrell said. “We don’t usually think of that we’re helping our own. We usually think we’re helping the community and being able to be there in their time of need.”

Looking at the bigger issue. not addressing Wichita specifically, Ramsay said shooting numbers skyrocketed a little more than a year ago. He said currently, the Sedgwick County Jail is “bursting at the seems,” with an inmate population that includes more than 120 homicide suspects. He said the issue goes beyond law and order.

“(There is) something bigger we need to look at to try to slow this tide,” he said.

He addressed a challenging for officers to find a balance of staying engaged and building trust in the community without letting their guards down with people out there that want to kill officers. He said the outreach efforts need to include earlier intervention, helping to find resources for families in need and helping kids to stay in school and have opportunities to future success. He said the objective is to help kids in the community get needed support young “so they don’t immediately grab a gun to solve a problem” when they’re older.

While the jail is full, Ramsay said that’s not the biggest issue right now.

“Catching these trigger pullers is my biggest concern,” he said.

If you’d like to donate to help the injured WPD officer, The Honore Adversis Foundation will accept donations on behalf of the officer at www.honorduringadversity.org.

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