By Armond McCray
After years of talking and speculation, Wichita has finally joined the wave of putting together a citizens’ review board. The citizens’ review board will provide the Wichita Police Department and council input regarding racial and biased-based policing issues. It will replace the existing City Manager Review Board. The board will also assist in policy development, public education, community outreach and other activities related to racial and other biased-based policing. The board will consist of seven members, and six alternates that come from a variety of demographics from around the city. The members of the board along with others who have pushed for this in the past believe that forming this board will result in more accountability and improved relationships with the police department and the people of Wichita. Police chief Gordon Ramsey also stated that he was looking forward to the opening of this board, saying that the citizen involvement will be good for both sides.
The idea of having this board was brought up originally during a WSU assessment of the police department that was done in 2016. There was no reason given as to why they finally decided to move forward with the board. But when they did, the Police department started by giving out word that there were positions open for the board. When it came down to picking, there were over one hundred applications that had to be looked through to determine who all would be best to serve and hold a position.
One of the Applicants was Lawanda Deshazer, an active leader in her community who thought that the board could benefit from her previous work. “I think that it will be good for the community, I think that I will give the people an inside look at what is going on behind closed doors and will put a good amount of people at ease when things occur in the city.”
From the looks of it, only good will come of this board, but only time will tell. The first meeting date has not been scheduled yet but will presumably be sometime in the near future. Until then, we will be on standby waiting to see what comes of this.