City manager: Wichita could have new police chief by early September

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Wichita could have a new police chief by early September, city officials said Thursday.

The deadline for applications is June 19, City Manager Robert Layton said, adding that he expects “a strong pool of candidates from this area as well as elsewhere in the country.”

Layton hired the International Association of Chiefs of Police as a consultant to whittle down the list of applicants. He also appointed eight people to a citizens’ advisory panel to give input through the process, including providing help in selecting semifinalists and finalists.

The selection will feature “a fairly robust interview process” as well as a community forum where people can meet candidates, Layton said.

No firm deadline for hiring a chief has been set, he said, but he’s hoping it will be done by late August or early September.

The status report on the hiring of a new chief was part of an update on the organizational assessment of the police department that was launched following former chief Norman Williams’ retirement last September. Nelson Mosley has been acting as interim chief since then.

The plan to outfit all police officers with body cameras by the end of the year remains on course, Layton said. The drafting of a policy for how the cameras should be used is nearly complete and covers all kinds of issues, he said, including when cameras should be on or off and how the footage will be stored.

There’s also “the touchy issue regarding public disclosure of what comes from the cameras,” Layton said.

The usage policy won’t be finalized without feedback from stakeholders, he said — groups that have expressed keen interest in the implementation of the cameras.

Officials hope to make decide the type of camera and the vendor by the end of June.

The department uses 60 cameras now and plans to buy another 428 for officers, Deputy Chief Hassan Ramzah said. The first batch of new cameras should be in use by late summer or early fall after the officers receiving them have been trained.

Following multiple officer-involved shootings of people with mental health issues in recent years, the department has set a goal of certifying more than half of its officers in mental health first aid. So far, 114 officers have completed the mental health first aid class, and another 235 officers are scheduled to attend the training by the end of the year.

The department has 82 officers certified in crisis intervention and another 19 are scheduled for the training this month.

One change emerging from the departmental review will be readily evident to residents.

“If someone is stopped and they do not receive a citation, they will still receive written information that indicates why they were stopped,” Layton said.

The policy change awaits formal approval by Mosley, city spokesman Ken Evans said.

“Pretext stops are legal, but there is concern about misuse,” Layton said. “Let’s be forthright and up front about why it is we’re stopping someone.”

The department is also changing its use of force policy, Ramzah said, though he would not offer details. A document distributed by city officials indicated the recommended changes “are intended to infuse contemporary constitutional policing guidelines” for the use of force.

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