WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Wichita Interim Police Chief Lemuel “Lem” Moore plans to retire soon. However, he does not have an exact day in mind.
On Tuesday, Moore told KSN News that he is working with the city manager’s office to determine the right time.
“I’ll try to hang in there as long as possible until we can hopefully get a new chief named, but it will just depend, day-to-day, on the motivation that I have to quickly retire,” he said.
In January, the City announced that Moore would be the interim chief as of March 1, when Police Chief Gordon Ramsay was leaving the department.
“I was initially told six months that this position will be held, and we’re at the six-month marker right now,” Moore said.
The City has been looking for a permanent police chief. Earlier this year, Moore told KSN News that he was not interested in the job, but then he started to change his mind.
“I believe it was KSN that actually interviewed and asked (if) I were planning on putting my name in the hat … I said “No!” Moore said Tuesday.
Moore explained that before he took over as interim chief, he had considered retiring at the year’s end. But after he took over the role, he became interested in the job. He said he was getting lots of compliments and support from the community, and he saw all the good he could do for the department and the community.
But Moore said he never applied for the permanent position.
“I’ve given the police department the support that it’s needed. I’ve given the community the support that it’s needed and balanced it very well,” he said Tuesday. “So, after 31 years, I always believe it’s better to leave on top.”
“I’m at a point in my career where I’ve achieved all that I believe I’ve set out to achieve within my life as a police officer.”
“It’s time to start that new chapter and possibly do something outside of law enforcement — a little bit more volunteering in the community and giving a different perspective to community members, from my point of view, on how we can enhance the grassroots programs, and getting involved with some of the kids and hoping to reduce some of the violence.”
Moore said he has not looked for or applied for any jobs.
“For the next three months, I’m going to decompress,” Moore said. “My goal is literally to, I haven’t had a vacation in two years, is to decompress.”
It has not been an easy six months as interim police chief. Shortly after he took over, it came to light that some police officers were involved in inappropriate text messages dating back to December 2015 and ending in February 2021. In July, Moore announced his personal review of the incidents and the discipline against the officers.
Also, in March, there was a shooting inside Towne East Square Mall that killed a 14-year-old boy.
In April, there were allegations that a police officer changed some answers on a form involving 17-year-old Cedric Lofton in September 2021. The form could have meant that Lofton went to a medical facility instead of being admitted to the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC). After the police left Lofton at JIAC, he struggled with JIAC staff, became unresponsive and died two days later.
And in May, the WPD said that Moore’s life had been threatened. The threat warned Moore to leave Wichita, or he would die. Mayor Brandon Whipple and District 1 Council Member Brandon Johnson also received death threats over who will be the next leader of the WPD. Police said the threats were credible, and they have been investigating them.
Moore is a 31-year veteran of the Wichita Police Department and has served in a number of capacities during his career. He started as a beat officer in Patrol East and Patrol North before becoming a DARE and School Liaison Officer, according to WPD.
The WPD said he has also served as a detective in the Undercover Narcotic Section, Financial Crimes Unit and Exploited and Missing Child Unit. His time in the ranks of Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain found him working in various capacities at Patrol South, Patrol West and the Law Enforcement Training Center. Moore has also served the community through his involvement on the Board of Directors for the Family Crisis Center.
On Tuesday, the City provided this timeline of what still needs to be done regarding police chief applicants:
- Early September
- Meet with review committee
- City Council engagement meetings
- Live community forum
- Executive team meetings
- Final Candidate Selection
- Late September
- Final approval
- Position offered and accepted
- Public announcement