Wichita police chief address citizens review board

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) The City of Wichita will soon have a Citizen Review Board to look at police officer misconduct and make recommendations.

The board will be made up of seven people who will serve as a liaison between the community and the Wichita Police Department to provide more insight into the investigative process.

Community members who have been asking for the oversight are eager to see the board form.

"I'll be the first to tell you, I couldn't stand police. Now, I strive to see police and community interaction because I can't stand to see more of the same for the next generation," said Angel Martinez of Love Your Community, Inc.

'I don't just want to be a part of something and be in the background. I want to be in the room, I want to hear what's really going on," said David Gilkey of Rise Up for Youth.

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay addressed the citizen review board along with other measures he says the department is taking to improve relations with the community.

He says the board will be able to look at all evidence from an investigation - including body camera footage and other relevant information - and give feedback to Wichita police.

"They will get to pull back the layers, poke, prode, peal, ask to make us better. They will get to see video; they will get to see reports and ask questions, and then make recommendations on what we can do better," he said.

Unlike an investigative review board, members will not be able to subpeona officers. Ramsay says that type of board would be more costly and would include changing state laws. At this time, he says he expects this review board to cost about $15,000 to $20,000.

"I want to be the best that we can be. I want the people of this community to hold us accountable, and if we are doing things that are not within the best practices or treating people unfairly, I want to be held accountable for that," said Ramsay.

Community members say they see the benefit, not just for one community, but for the entire city.

"I don't want this to look like a black issue. This is a city issue because when one area of the city is failing or suffering, it impacts the whole city," said Past Buck DeShazer.

Currently, no timeline has been put forth as to when members will be selected for the citizen review board. Members will be appointed by the City Manager.