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Police Chief Candidates Discuss Change At Public Forum

Hugo Phan


The two finalists in the running for the next Chief of the Wichita Police Department answered questions at a public forum on Monday night.

The candidates were questioned about goals for the next five years, effective community policing, and transparency. A big subject for the evening, though, was change.

City Manager Bob Layton acted as moderator for the forum.

One question for Joel Fitzgerald, the current police chief in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was how as an outsider, he could know what the citizens of Wichita want or need.

“There’s seven deadly words. ‘Because. That’s. The. Way. We’ve. Always. Done. It,'" Fitzgerald explained. "If we’re not thinking about evolving as a police department and a city; constantly remaining dynamic; changing and adjusting to the needs of the citizens and the direction the city is taking; creating new goals for ourselves...we will never change.”

A different question was asked of candidate Terri Moses, the director of safety services for Wichita Public Schools: how would she convince the community that she would not run the police department in the same fashion as it has been for the last 30 years?

“I can tell you, and a lot of people have asked me this question, 'are you going to bring about change?'" Moses said. "I’m not going to force change. You can force change on anybody, but it’s not sustainable.”

The city manager is expected to choose between Fitzgerald and Moses in the next few weeks.