Wichita Citizens’ Review Board Found Racist Police Text Messages ‘Disturbing’ | KCUR 89.3

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The city’s Citizen Review Board made several recommendations to the Wichita Police Department and City Manager’s Office following an investigation into racist text messages.

Included with the recommendations was a report detailing the texts between Wichita police officers and other law enforcement personnel.

“The context of the messages reviewed was disturbing and unacceptable,” the report said.

Recommendations included changing social media and conduct policies; consider a duty to intervene or mandatory reporting requirement for unprofessional conduct; more internal training for “public trust”; assess how the ministry can expedite driver reviews; a review of training on Brady/Giglio issues; and another review of the department’s disciplinary process.

The Brady/Giglio lists include law enforcement officials who may not be deemed credible to testify at trial for bias or other conduct.

Another recommendation was to reach out to officers who join support groups or who “are aligned with activities and beliefs incompatible with public service.” In texts made public in the report, officers shared memes affiliated with Three Percenters – a far-right militia.

Citizen Review Board member O’Dell Harris Jr. said the recommendations are just the beginning of transparency in the department.

“I said it several times during the session,” Harris said, “one thread can unravel a whole sweater – and I think a sweater of racism, secret racism if you want to get technical, was exposed However, I still think there is work to be done.

Acting Wichita Police Chief Lemuel Moore said he welcomed the recommendations.

“I’m looking forward … in my acting role to bring light to the darkness that people can experience, and that’s a big part of that,” Moore said.

The report follows an hour-long meeting by the Wichita City Council, which passed an ordinance change for the council. The change allows the council to make public reports and recommendations following investigations, and to receive a disciplinary summary from an officer or officers it reviews.

The council said it would follow up with the department and the city manager’s office after 60 days in another public meeting.

City manager’s office ends his investigation of the incident and will also engage a third party to review the service culture.

Copyright 2022 KMUW | NPR for Wichita. To see more, visit KMUW | NPR for Wichita.

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