Community members push for citizen review board in Wichita

By  | 

WICHITA, Kan. The Wichita City Council is considering a plan to create a citizen review board in the city. Activists in the community are among those pushing for the city to implement the review board.

Its purpose is to replace the city manager review board, providing the city council and Wichita police recommendations for handling racial and biased-based policing issues.

To this point, there is strong support from the community in creating the citizen review board. Of those hoping to see the board come to fruition is Santiago Quintero, the father of John Paul Quintero, a man shot and killed by a Wichita police officer in January 2015.

Santiago Quintero says he's confident that if there was a citizen review board in place when the officer shot his son, the case could have turned out differently.

"It don't seem like no two years ago, seems just like yesterday," Quintero says of his son's death. "I have not forgotten about it. It's hard to get over it. I don't think I'll ever get over it."

An officer shot 23-year-old John Paul Quintero on a January night in 2015 after the Wichita Police Department says Quintero started reaching for something when officers told him to put his hands up.

Santiago says the truth about his son's death has never been told and he feels like a citizen review board would have allowed the truth to come to light.

"A lot of this has to to with police protecting each other," he says. "You hear a lot of things that are unjustified that they call justified. They play this game called 'you scratch my back, and that has to stop.'"

If created, the board will review citizen complaints and department policies and practices. It will also advise the city council and Wichita Police Department on issues relating to race and biased-based policing.

Community activist David Gilkey with the organization, Rise Up for Youth, also supports creating the citizen review board, but worries it won't be effective.

"The bottom line is, 'how much weight will the review board have in this matter?'" he says. "Will their input matter? "It don't make sense to have a group of people come together and our opinions don't matter."

For Santiago Quintero, this is about keeping his son's memory alive so that another partent doesn't have to go through what he has.

"I don't want this happening to anyone else," he says. "I mean, it's enough. Enough is enough."

The city council will hear recommendations for the board Tuesday.