Wichita Police Department announces updates to use-of-force policy

Published: Jun. 12, 2020 at 3:07 PM CDT
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The Wichita Police Department announces a series of changes to its use-of-force policy, some of which follow last month's death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn.

The WPD has been in the process of revising its use-of-force policy for about a year as part of a routine review process. But some of the new language comes from WPD Chief Gordon Ramsay within the past few weeks.

"Chief Ramsay is definitely the person who creates, builds the culture here," says WPD Patrol South Bureau Commander, Capt. Wendell Nicholson Jr. "Since he's been here, there's been a focus on deescalation."

The document puts into writing what types of force WPD officers can and cannot use. The most significant changes are with WPD procedure.

While still in draft form, the revised policy prohibits officers from placing a knee on anyone's neck or chest when that person is already in handcuffs. It also puts into writing that officers are required to intervene if they see an officer using an excessive amount of force. EMS would also be required to respond following use of deadly or non-deadly force, including if a suspect in custody complains of any injury.

Officers are also prohibited from shooting at a moving vehicle unless someone is attempting to use that vehicle as a weapon.

"One of the things we always talk about is procedural justice," Capt. Nicholson says. "Being accountable, being transparent and fair and making sure that people have a voice."

The WPD says many of the proposed measures in the use-of-force policy are already practiced by the department. What a formal policy does is puts the practices into writing.

Officers who violate the use-of-force policy could be punished, but that part of the policy is still being written.

Those seeking police reform say seeing the WPD revisiting and updating its use-of-force policy is a step in the right direction.

"Shows that they are trying to work with the community and that the community 's voice is very important to them as well, so I do see them taking first steps to actually come to a compromise with the community," says Wichita United Executive Director Willie Scott Jr.

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