Wichita City Council took the first steps today toward creating a new citizen's board to review complaints about the police department, approving the first reading of the ordinance.
The seven-member board would meet quarterly to review officer complaints from start to finish, and offer recommendations on better policies and practices.
"The members will get to see the entire complaint, that is, from front to end and everything in between, which includes videos and all associated material," police Chief Gordon Ramsay told City Council members Tuesday. "They will get to poke, prod, pull back, peel, ask questions, and see everything."
Board members will also advise on policies related to racial and other biased-related policing issues, and act as liaisons for residents filing complaints.
Ramsay said the goal of the board is to build trust and legitimacy through transparency and accountability.
"The good news is we’re not doing this during a major time of crisis," he said. "In today’s world, police have never been under more scrutiny.”
Members would be appointed by the city manager and would go through the Citizens Police Academy curriculum as part of training. Ramsay said it's critical that the board reflects all of the communities within Wichita, "particularly those who have historic distrust and concerns about policing."
The review board was one of the recommendations outlined in the 2015 organizational assessment from Wichita State University. Ramsay said it's part of the department's community policing model.
More than 80 complaints were brought against police personnel last year, most of them from within the department.
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