WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Explosive moments at today’s city council meeting when a protester was asked to leave for disrupting the meeting.
It came after statements over a swatting call that ended in the officer-involved shooting of Andrew Finch and transparency in the police department.
Speakers at the meeting were divided over how the Wichita Police Department has handled the case.
“We are here yet again another week, trying to get answers, trying to get the name released, trying to get accountability and transparency, and we are still not seeing any progress,” said Kathy Camden, a Wichita resident.
Others came out to speak in support of the police department.
“There are those that want the officers name revealed that shot Mr. Finch, there is an investigation still going on, so there has not been proof that what the officer did was illegal or wrong,” said Pastor Jeanne Garrelts, Wichita City Church.
Mayor Jeff Longwell says the investigation is ongoing and that there is only so much the city can do right now.
“We still have a process to work through and it is even in someone else’s hands and until that process is completed, our hands our literally tied, there is limited action that we can take,” said Mayor Longwell.
KSN reached out to the police department to find out why the name of the officer who shot Finch has not been released.
We were sent Policy 706, which states only the Chief of Police can decide to release such a name.
Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay says this is a long standing policy that is in line with other law enforcement agencies in Kansas.
Chief Ramsay sent KSN a statement saying:
“As police chief I need to balance transparency with the safety of officers and their families. In recent weeks I have received threats of people shooting my children and wishing bad things upon them. Society has changed. Patience and civility have been lost, along with a respect and understanding of due process. When an officer’s life or their family’s lives are in danger it is my responsibility to ensure their safety. I take that responsibility seriously.
Not releasing officer’s names in shootings is a long-standing City practice that goes back decades and many chiefs of police. A change in this practice impacts the working conditions is subject to mandatory bargaining per the City labor contract with the Fraternal Order of Police. There are exceptions to this, such as if an officer is charged with a crime, the name will be public. The District Attorney’s Office does not name individuals unless they have been charged with a crime.
Not releasing names of officers is far from an isolated practice. The Kansas Highway Patrol, Sedgewick County Sheriff, area police departments and Kansas City, Kansas, Olathe and Overland Park do not release officers’ names.
I am committed to making changes to improve best practices, community policing and protect the integrity of this department. I have demonstrated that since I joined the department in 2016 and in recent months with naming officers charged with certain crimes and placing them on unpaid leave.”
The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office is still investigating the police shooting of Andrew Finch to determine whether charges will be filed.