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City Names Members Of Citizen Review Board

Jason Rojas
flickr Creative Commons

Wichita’s Citizen Review Board to enforce police transparency is starting to take shape.

City Manager Robert Layton, who announced its members Wednesday, said the board's formation is especially timely.

Out of more than 100 applicants, Layton has appointed seven members and six alternates to the board, including a trial lawyer, a pastor and community advocates.

“The whole idea again was to get us a representative group, one that reflected the community," he said during a media briefing.

Members are:

  • Timothy Sims, pastor at Planeview Church of God in Christ and former member of the City Manager's Review Board (which the Citizen Review Board is replacing)
  • Dennis Bender, executive director of the Union Rescue Mission and advocate for those who suffer from disease, addiction and homelessness
  • Jay Fowler, trial lawyer and partner with the firm Foulston Siefkin and former president of the Wichita Bar Association
  • Anabel Larumbe, receptionist with the Greg Beuke Law Office and community advocate
  • Robert Thompson, logistics manager with Cargill and graduate of the city's Citizens Police Academy
  • Shaun Rojas, director of civic engagement at the Kansas Leadership Center and member of the District IV Advisory Board
  • Tonja Sowder, vice president of human resources for Syndeo Outsourcing and member of the board of directors for Family Promise of Greater Wichita, a faith-based organization that works to combat homelessness

In case a member has to leave the board, the six alternates are:

  • Odell Harris Jr., behavioral specialist for Wichita Public Schools with more than a decade of pastoral experience
  • Jaime Lopez, HR specialist and University of Phoenix adjunct professor
  • Paul Kitchen, teacher with Wichita Public Schools and adjunct professor with Wichita State University
  • Stephanie Luna, associate at Bed Bath and Beyond, career transition specialist with the Flint Hills Job Corps Center and online instructor for Hutchinson Community College
  • Sharon Ailslieger, retired librarian and active member of the Wichita chapter of the League of Women Voters
  • Janet Miller, administrative coordinator with the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center and former City Council member

Former U.S. Attorney for Kansas Barry Grissom will serve as an advisor.
Members will review officer complaints once an investigation is closed and make recommendations for better policies, though they'll have no input on the investigations themselves or be able to open an investigation. They will assist the Wichita Police Department with community outreach and education, and advise the department on issues of racial bias.

Wichita Police have been criticized recently, most notably after an officer fatally shot an unarmed man in what started as a swatting prank. Per the department's policy, the officer hasn't been named.

The city approved the formation of the review board in October after it was recommended in a 2015 assessment of the police department. Chief Gordon Ramsay said citizen review boards are becoming more common, with about 100 similar boards in cities around the country.

"My philosophy is that we police with the consent of the people," Ramsay said. "So I welcome the oversight, citizen involvement in what we're doing, looking at our policies and our practices and asking those tough questions."

Meetings will be open to the public. A first meeting has not been scheduled.


Follow Nadya Faulx on Twitter @NadyaFaulx.

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