Police Chief Ramsay: Year in Review
Since Gordon Ramsay became the Chief of Police just over a year ago, Wichita has seen a new side of law enforcement.
Though Ramsay stepped into his new role in January of 2016, his family did not join him in Wichita until July.
“I have a six and a nine-year-old and so they stayed back with my wife to finish school up,” Ramsay said. “That allowed me, really, the first half of the year to just dive in.”
Upon his arrival, Ramsay was greeted with open arms.
“The people here have been so welcoming, supportive and just kind to me and my family that it’s made the transition very easy. There’s a sincerity about the people here that really makes it great,” Ramsay said.
When he was introduced to the Wichita Police Department’s officers, Ramsay was even more impressed with Wichita.
“I have been amazed at the caliber of the officers here. The dedication, hard work and just the quality of the staff, and that goes for police officers and support staff,” Ramsay said. “Almost 75 percent have a four-year degree, which, for a police department of this size, is really good. Education has been a past chief’s priority and it shows.”
Prior to his move, Ramsay had researched Wichita and its Police Department to get a feel for his new work environment. His efforts yielded few results.
“When I got here and met the staff and realized the all the good things that happen here,” Ramsay said, “I realized that the story of this police department wasn’t getting out. So, we made an effort to share the human side of the PD as well as the good things that are being done here by police officers, both on and off duty, to show the community how fortunate they are to have the staff that we have.”
As a result, Ramsay had a goal for Wichita: To focus on building relationships with the community.
“Policing is so crisis-driven that we really have to work hard to create opportunities for positive interaction,” Ramsay said, and that’s exactly what he’s done.
One of the most prominent instances in which this was put to practice was at last July’s protest-turned-barbeque.
First Steps Barbecue
The First Steps Barbecue was originally scheduled to be Wichita’s second Black Lives Matter protest. Upon meeting with organizers of the protest, however, Ramsay found that they had something in common: They all wanted to do something productive.
“There had been protests in the past and nothing changed, so we thought ‘Let’s do something where we can interact and have conversations,’” Ramsay said.
Ramsay had experience in neighborhood cookouts through his old department and he brought the concept with him to Wichita.
The event gained national attention almost immediately after a video of officer Aaron Moses dancing with Wichitans at the barbecue went viral, trending on both Facebook and Twitter at the time.
“I think not only the city, but also the country was ready to see something positive instead of all of the negative stuff,” Ramsay said in reference to the climate around policing last summer. “People were surprised by how there was a genuine desire, on both sides, to get along and to make things better and I think that the people that weren’t there were happy to see people coming together to try and have productive change.”
We’ve also seen the Wichita Police Department compete in (and win!) an international Running Man video challenge, participate in Red Nose Day and more. According to Ramsay, we’re going to continue to see the fun side of the PD, hear about positive interactions with the community and more.
“The community has just embraced the PD and our efforts in all neighborhoods. So that has made it easy and more fun that the neighborhoods want to build relationships,” Ramsay said.
In the next few years, the Wichita Police Department will continue work on building relationships with the community.
“Right now we’ve got extreme fear in our Hispanic and Latino communities that police are going to target them because of the color of their skin, suspecting that they may not be here legally. That is something that concerns me, so we’ve been doing a lot of outreach,” Ramsay said. "I want to ensure our residents that we are not ICE and that immigration is a federal issue, not ours."
This isn’t the only big issue that Ramsay plans to take on.
“A number of our homicides every year are related to domestic violence and I want to make sure that the Police Department can work with our partners in the criminal justice system to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to reduce incidents of domestic violence and prevent domestic homicides,” he added.
In addition, the WPD plans to continue to explore the use of increased technology.
“We’re going to continue to focus on trying to be innovative and be leaders. I have a sincere belief in the role that police play and I know we can be better,” Ramsay said. “It’s my vision to have the best police department in the U.S.A.,” Ramsay said.
Have a Concern?
The WPD holds neighborhoods meetings all across the city almost every night of the week. Meetings are open to the members of each neighborhood and a WPD officer will attend to hear and address concerns. The WPD can also be contacted through social media on both Facebook and Twitter, by a phone call to the Chief’s office at (316) 268-4158 or via a neighborhood office.