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Report: Wichita police officers who sent racist texts not disciplined appropriately

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An internal review by the city says police department leadership failed to administer discipline that matched the gravity of the misconduct.

Wichita police officers who exchanged racist text messages and made light of the use of force by law enforcement were not disciplined appropriately, according to a report released Thursday.

The report came from an internal review committee put together by City Manager Robert Layton. It reviewed the Wichita Police Department’s handling of an investigation into the officers’ misconduct.

The report says former Chief Gordon Ramsay and other department leaders mishandled the investigation and failed to administer discipline that matched the “seriousness” of the misconduct.

“Arguably, no discipline was administered to those officers who received ‘education-based discipline’ or ‘coaching and mentoring,’” the report reads.

The committee report also calls for a third party to investigate bias in the police department and recommend changes.

Layton, Mayor Brandon Whipple, interim Police Chief Lem Moore and Assistant City Manager Donte Martin spoke about the report at a City Hall news conference on Thursday.

“The report contains recommendations that will improve our police department, improve our city organization, but most importantly, hopefully provide a path for us as a community to heal and move forward,” Martin said.

Officers exchanged racist, sexist and homophobic messages for more than five years, with a bulk of the messages taking place between 2018 and 2021.

The messages were discovered during an investigation into a Sedgwick County Sheriff’s sergeant who was formerly employed by Wichita Police.

The city’s legal department is looking into whether the city can issue further discipline to the involved officers at this time.

Daniel Caudill is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. He was a reporter, photographer and digital content manager for The Derby Informer and an editor and reporter for The Sunflower. In the spring of 2020, Daniel helped cover the legislative session in Topeka as an intern for the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @CaudillKMUW.