Lofton task force issues final version of recommendations
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - It has been 12 weeks since the Sedgwick County's Community Task Force to review youth corrections systems standards met for the first time. Fast forward to today, and the group has finished its recommendations on how to prevent a death like Cedric Lofton's again.
“The process was a very deliberate one, of course, because we had a serious task before us," task force member and President of the Wichita chapter of the NAACP Larry Burks Sr. told KAKE News Tuesday.
The task force has reviewed every aspect of the situation that led to Cedric Lofton's death last fall. Lofton was pinned down in a prone position by workers at the county's Juvenile Intake Center for over 30 minutes, which the autopsy report says played a role in his death a day later.
In total, the task force made over 50 suggestions to several agencies like the Department of Family and Children to Sedgwick County and the Wichita Police Department. Those changes include minor policy tweaks to creating whole new mental health programs.
Jazmine Rogers, a youth leader for Progeny and a task force member says, "A lot of them will allow for audio for the video recordings, update their axon policies and really expand training. So that way, if they ever do come across another young person who is experiencing a mental health crisis, they will be equipped to handle the situation."
So where does the county go next after the recommendations?
Assistant county manager Rusty Leeds says they will pass the recommendations to all the agencies involved this week. From there, he says they will go and review what changes can be made by department heads, what will need county commission approval and what will need new funding. “Right now we're in the in the middle of budget season. And so the timing on this allows us to do the evaluation, do the cost analysis and determine what kind of staffing these recommendations are going to require, and present that information to the to the county commissioners as we go through the budget process.”
Leeds says a lot of the policy changes can be implemented fairly soon, while new programs might take a few months once the budget is finalized.
Task force members say they plan to keep in communication local government officials to make sure these recommendations are put into effect as soon as possible. Rogers says, "We can't wait years, we can't wait decades for these changes to come into place because we never know when we'll have another situation of a young person in a mental health crisis.”
County and city elected officials have also promised to update the task force in both 90 and 180 days on the progress.
The full set of recommendations are below.