Kansas Congressional District 1 candidates weigh in on police reform, qualified immunity

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Tuesday is the Kansas Primary Election. We talked to the candidates hoping to take over from Congressman Roger Marshall in “The Big First District” about reopening schools. We also asked them where they stand on police reform.

It’s the same question we gave policymakers at the state and national level: What does police reform look like to you? Here’s where the Republican candidates stand.

“Just a little bit better training,” said Jerry Molstad, R-Congressional Candidate for Kansas 1st District.

“I’m for law and order first,” said Bill Clifford, R-Congressional Candidate for Kansas 1st District.

“We need to have policies in place that hold the bad law enforcement officers accountable,” said Tracey Mann, R-Congressional Candidate for Kansas 1st District.

All three Republican candidates, in some form or another, say police reform involves more training for officers. One of the aspects they want to focus on includes when to use force and how to better handle mental health calls. But when it came to having a public database available to track excessive force complaints, only Clifford opposed it.

“Anyone who is a public servant should be held to account,” said Christy Cauble Davis, D-Congressional Candidate for Kansas 1st District.

“I think there needs to be more transparency,” said Kali Barnett, D-Congressional Candidate for Kansas 1st District.

Both Democrats shared similar thoughts on police reform, including more training for officers. However, both candidates made it a point to bring up systemic racism and having the Congressional Black Caucus involved in drafting potential legislation when it comes to that reform.

Then we asked all five candidates who agreed to sit down with KSN where they stand with qualified immunity. It’s the same question we asked lawmakers at the state and national level: Do you support eliminating or modifying qualified immunity?

“I certainly support modifying it. I absolutely think we need to open it up and start having the conversations,” said Barnett.

“Certainly something to look at,” said Davis. “I’ve been interested in the proposals from the Congressional Black Caucus.”

“We don’t need the federal government telling us how to function here in western Kansas,” said Clifford.

“I would modify it a little bit, I would say you have to have some leeway,” said Molstad.

“I think we need to look at it,” said Man. “I’m looking at it right now and we’ll see what legislation and specifics would look like.”

KSN reached out to Republican candidate Michael Soetaert multiple times for an on camera interview, but he declined.

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