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City Releases Update On Wichita Police Department’s Community Efforts

J J, flickr Creative Commons

A Community Advisory Board for the city of Wichita is expected to be up and running in the next three months.

KMUW’s Deborah Shaar reports on the city’s progress update released today...

The new Community Advisory Board will provide residents with a format for sharing concerns and offering input on the Wichita Police Department’s practices and policies.

City Manager Robert Layton says board members will be selected and trained in the coming months before they begin meeting.

Establishing the board was one of the key recommendations given in a six-month Wichita State University assessment of the police department conducted earlier this year partly in response to events in Ferguson, Missouri, that highlighted friction between police personnel and community members there.

Layton says equipping officers with body cameras is a high priority, and they expect to contract with a vendor this month to supply the cameras. The department will purchase a total of 450 cameras in addition to 60 already in the field at a total cost of $1.5 million for equipment, staff, maintenance and data storage.

Another goal was to provide police officers with additional training on dealing with citizens who have mental health issues. Layton says by the end of the year, 350 officers are expected to have completed mental health first aid training.

The assessment is essentially a blueprint for the city’s new chief of police. Former Chief Norman Williams retired in September. Layton says the position is currently advertised and a consultant has been hired to help with the selection process.

Read the full progress update: