WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — From recruitment to the use of body-worn cameras, Wichita’s new police chief is putting together his list of top priorities leading up to his official start date on Dec. 5.
Joe Sullivan, the former Deputy Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department, says the Wichita Police Department is down approximately 65 officers.
Sullivan says he will work to ensure a more diverse workforce, including an initiative to have women make up at least 30% of all sworn officers by 2030.
“I will be reaching out to the 30×30 program. I think that’s something that has helped other cities,” Sullivan said. “Philadelphia is currently participating in that program, and Wichita will as well.”
Another top concern of Sullivan’s is the WRAP restraint system used by the WPD to transport 17-year-old Cedric Lofton to the Juvenile Intake Assessment Center in September 2021. Lofton later died in the hospital after being restrained in JIAC custody. While no charges were filed, his death was ruled a homicide.
“I want to look at the policy that directs how long someone can be in that device—I already am looking into some of pending lawsuits as to whether we even should have that device,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan says he’s also pushing for improved communication between the WPD and JIAC to ensure similar incidents do not take place moving forward.
“Was the supervisor consulted on a decision not to take him to a hospital but to take him directly to that facility? That’s all part of policy, and in Philadelphia, anytime we used any type of less-lethal device, we always made sure that the person in our custody was transported to our hospital before a detention facility, and I feel that’s something that should have happened in that case,” Sullivan said.
Another policy Sullivan says he will look into early on is the use of police body cameras.
“We’ll be doing monthly audits, and supervisors will be directed to do random audits of body-worn camera footage of their officers,” Sullivan said.
In terms of the WPD’s Evidence & Storage Facility, Sullivan says the Philadelphia Police Department saw similar issues. He tells KSN News he will look into current WPD findings leading up to his official start date and will take a more hands-on approach to the facility as soon as he’s sworn in.