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Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay announces he is stepping down

Abigail Wilson
KMUW/File photo

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay has announced that he is stepping down from his position. His last day with the department will be March 1, 2022.

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said he will leave the department next March.

In a memo Friday, Ramsay said that he plans to spend more time with his family. He and his wife have two children.

He also would like to spend more time with his nearly 90-year old father, who is battling cancer, and his mother.

"I am leaving WPD for the betterment of my family as they are the most important thing in my life and we are at a time when it is most important I am there for them," Ramsay said in a statement.

"My children are at an age where I want to share with them the same experiences I had growing up. As a youngster, I spent a lot of time fishing and hunting with my dad, and I want to do the same with my kids.

"My dad turns 90 in a few weeks, has cancer and I would like to see him and my mom more often."

Brandon Whipple, who has three young boys, said one of his first conversations with Ramsay when he became mayor was how to maintain a focus on his family while working such a demanding job.

"Just reading his post online where it was all about getting back to the family, making sure that he was there with his father who's ill," Whipple said.
"It just sounded like ... Gordon the person, not just Gordon the police chief."

City Manager Robert Layton, who hired Ramsay, said he made "a significant contribution to the community."

"He did everything that I was hoping he would," Layton said in a statement, "and that is to position the Wichita Police Department to be a 21st Century leading police organization, and one that is using modern methods internally and is connected with the community externally.

"He opened discussions and dialogues with folks who had felt underrepresented before, and whoever comes in behind Chief Ramsay will have to build on that legacy."

Whipple agrees.

"He does an amazing job getting into communities and getting into spaces where police traditionally haven't been and utilizing that community input and relationships to help our community policing efforts."

Layton said the city hopes to hire a new chief in 2022. He said the process will be similar to the one used to hire Ramsay.

"We need to do the same thing we did last time, and that is when we get to finalists, have public forums and allow the public to participate in the process, ask questions of the candidates and get feedback from them at the end of the sessions," Layton said in a statement.

Whipple said the new chief will need to build on Ramsay's legacy.

"And that's being community focused, community centered and to continue on that strategy of community policing," he said, "where we're building relationships and we're serving the community and not just utilizing police when there's something going down."

Ramsay was named chief in January of 2016. He previously served 10 years as the chief of police in Duluth, Minnesota.

He gained national attention later that year when he worked with supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement in Wichita to organize a community cookout with members of law enforcement.

A week later, he was invited to the White House to participate in an event focused on community policing.

Ramsay was one of the first police chiefs nationally to condemn the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. He tweeted that he was "horrified" by the event and said it looked like "murder."

Ramsay was a past president of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association.

He later participated in rallies in Wichita to protest Floyd's death.

Earlier this year, Ramsay was a finalist to become chief of police in Austin, Texas, but did not get the job.

In 2020, President Donald Trump named Ramsay to the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. The new 18-member commission explored issues affecting law enforcement.

Ramsay also has served on the executive board of the Major City Chiefs of Police Association since coming to Wichita.

Tom joined KMUW in 2017 after spending 37 years with The Wichita Eagle where he held a variety of reporting and editing roles. He also is host of The Range, KMUW’s weekly show about where we live and the people who live here. Tom is an adjunct instructor in the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University.