WPD officers charged with crimes will get unpaid leave


Starting this month, the Wichita Police Department enacted a new practice to not pay officers charged with a crime.

"I have a hard time saying that they're going to be put on paid leave and the community has a hard time with that, so to get more in line with the community expectations, we have adjusted our practices that no longer pays an officer who has been charged with a crime," said Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay.

Under the police department's internal investigation policies, it confirms that during a criminal investigation, the employee's work status will be determined by the chief of police, in consultation with the employee's chain of command.

"I think it ensures the public that the police chief takes this seriously. If there's an officer accused of a serious type of an offense, like this, that they're not going to allow them to just sit on payroll," said Dr. Michael Birzer, criminal justice professor at Wichita State University.  

The practice started two weeks ago when two veteran officers were charged in separate incidents. Both were placed on administrative leave without pay. 

This week, Capt. Kevin Mears was charged following a basketball incident, where he is filmed pushing a teenaged referee. He was also placed on unpaid leave.

"I think the chief is wanting to very transparent and wants to send a message," said Birzer. "He's sending a message that you can't tolerate that. Police officers have to be beyond that. You just simply have to be beyond that."

The Fraternal Order of Police in Wichita did not have a comment regarding this new practice.

The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office has a similar policy. The sheriff has the discretion to suspend any employee without pay when he/she has been charged with a criminal offense.

Under Kansas law, there are 58 misdemeanor offenses, that are grounds for discipline or denial of certification by the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Act / Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training. For the list, click here

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