Nelson Mosley named interim chief for Wichita Police Department

08/22/2014 10:05 AM

08/22/2014 6:56 PM

On the same day they named a new deputy police chief, Wichita officials said Friday they plan an in-depth assessment of the police department.

Deputy Police Chief Nelson Mosley, a 27-year veteran of the force, was named interim police chief. Mosley, 49, has been a deputy police chief for nearly five years.

He will assume his new role on Sept. 6, the day after current chief Norman Williams formally ends his 39-year career in law enforcement.

“I look forward to our continued work in keeping Wichita a safe and secure community,” said Mosley, whose law enforcement career began in 1987.

Along with announcing Mosley’s appointment, City Manager Robert Layton laid out plans for an operational assessment of the police department.

“When a police chief retires, it provides a valuable opportunity to evaluate where the department has been and where it needs to go,” Layton said in prepared remarks.

The assessment will focus on eight areas, Layton said:

Current operational policies and procedures

Community and employee relations

Organizational structure

Safety and training programs

Community policing

Use of technology

Communication and engagement activities

Interagency relations

The assessment will be coordinated by Deputy Chief John Speer, Layton said, with assistance from Deputy Chief Hassan Ramzah. The Center of Urban Studies at Wichita State University’s Hugo Wall School of Public Affairs will assist the review with research, engagement and report writing.

The final report is due Dec. 31, Layton said. Another four months will likely be needed to study the results and formulate a blueprint, he said.

Layton called the process “a pause to take a look at the current operations of the department and where we want to go in the future.”

“I’m looking for a good, comprehensive dialogue with the community,” he said. “I’m not going into this with any preconceived notions. It seems to me to be an appropriate time to evaluate where we are.”

When asked, Layton said Williams retired voluntarily on Aug. 14 and was not asked or forced to retire.

But Layton acknowledged criticism from residents and community groups about the department’s use of force, evidence of racial profiling and even service levels in the community.

“We want to look at a lot of things,” Speer said, echoing Layton when he said “we want to have a good, open, honest dialogue with the community.”

Mosley said he has no current plans to make sweeping changes in the department.

“We’ll let the study serve its purpose,” he said.

He will oversee a department with about 840 employees and an $80 million budget.

Mosley’s rise through the ranks includes being in charge of the Crimes Against Persons section when the serial killer BTK resurfaced in 2004 after being silent for 25 years.

At the time, BTK was blamed for seven murders and claimed credit for an eighth when he resurfaced. Mosley had to marshal the resources and manpower to handle the investigation into the most notorious killer in the city’s history and also make sure other homicides and violent crimes were investigated effectively.

“To be there when it actually happens, that made my heart beat,” Mosley said in a 2009 Eagle story about BTK’s unexpected reappearance. “Managing that type of investigation – no matter what, we still had crimes going on. They don’t stop just because this case has arisen again.

“It was challenging keeping all of the different entities up to speed,” he said. “I thought we worked pretty well, all of us together.”

Dennis Rader was arrested in February 2005 and pleaded guilty to 10 murders. He is serving 10 consecutive life sentences.

Mosley is not a native of Wichita. His stint in the U.S. Air Force brought him to McConnell Air Force Base. He liked Wichita so much he decided to stay.

Two uncles were state troopers in Delaware when Mosley was a child. He said he was drawn to their cool uniforms, tall black boots, Smokey Bear hats and riveting stories.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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