A committee appointed by Wichita City Manager Robert Layton found the police department did not properly discipline police officers accused of sending racist and homophobic messages, reported The Associated Press. The city report also found the department mishandled its investigation into the officers who exchanged those messages.
The committee concluded the police department must “crackdown on biased officers, poor leadership and botched investigations,” per The Wichita Eagle. They also say the former chief, Gordon Ramsay, and two deputy chiefs mishandled an internal investigation into SWAT team members who exchanged racist, sexist and homophobic messages.
The messages spanned from 2015 to 2021. Some of those messages included an offensive image of George Floyd and jokes about using excessive force.
More on the report from The Wichita Eagle:
“Our Board is frustrated by this entire case,” the report said. “The WPD has made great progress in its relationship with the community in recent years. It has affirmatively worked on building a culture of respect . . . We know our officers as good people, with a commitment to public service, diversity, inclusion, and fair and just policing. The attitude in the culture shown by these text messages is harmful to our community. But it is also harmful to the good men and women of the WPD who are committed to their jobs and the standard of conduct expected of WPD officers. We — the community, and the men and women of the WPD — must now work together to rebuild trust and make the WPD and our community better.”
Some resolutions have been brought forward to address the issue including an independent review of the bias in the police department. AP News reported the Justice Department will host meetings to connect the police and community with one another. These meetings will feature panels of Black, Hispanic and LGTBQ community members.
Moore said all officers are required to attend in addition to training sessions on racial discrimination and civil rights violations.
“You’re getting paid to listen, so sit there and be quiet, no matter how tough it is, no matter how wrong the person speaking to you may be. It’s important we have an ear and that we listen to the community,” he said via AP News.