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Joe Sullivan selected to lead Wichita Police Department

Joe Sullivan.PNG
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Joe Sullivan was selected to be the City of Wichita's next police chief.

According to a city release, Sullivan oversaw more than 4,000 officers and civilian personnel as deputy commissioner of Patrol Operations in Philadelphia.

The city of Wichita has named Joe Sullivan to be its next police chief.

Sullivan previously worked for the Philadelphia Police Department for more than 25 years and at a public safety technology company.

He’ll begin leading the department in December as it undergoes numerous investigations and audits after racist and violent text messages between law enforcement officers were made public, as well as problems in the property and evidence division.

“It’s going to give me a leg up,” Sullivan said about the investigations. “It's going to give me another perspective.”

Sullivan and the other finalist, Mario Knapp, were in Wichita last week for a community forum. They were among 19 candidates forwarded to a city search committee, which selected the two finalists.

As chief, Sullivan said, he’ll begin looking at the department’s policies, including use of force and discipline, and its financial situation. Sullivan also said the community will be a priority for him.

“Tell me what it is that … they’re happy with when it comes to the police department and what they are not so happy with? What they think I need to do,” he said.

In a previous interview with KMUW, Sullivan said he’d like to see all officers receive Crisis Intervention Training. The training is used when officers respond to calls for people in a mental health crisis.

After being selected as chief, Sullivan said he’s also looking at bringing ICAT training to the department, which focuses on de-escalation.

“It was proven that the city in which it was first initiated, there was a reduction in use of force,” Sullivan said, citing a University of Cincinnati study. “There was a reduction of injuries to people in police custody, as well as a reduction in injury to police officers.”

According to a city release, Sullivan oversaw more than 4,000 officers and civilian personnel as deputy commissioner of Patrol Operations in Philadelphia.

“Joe Sullivan has a proven ability to successfully lead and manage a world-class police department,” said City Manager Robert Layton in the release. “I have every confidence that he is the right person at the right time to take on the challenging task of ensuring Wichita residents have trust in the integrity and transparency of our police department.”

The city has been searching for a new police chief since March following the departure of former Chief Gordon Ramsay, who is now running for sheriff in his home state of Minnesota.

In Wichita, Sullivan will oversee a department of more than 900 employees starting in December. His salary will start at $210,000.

Sullivan, 60, said he hopes being Wichita’s next police chief is his last stop in law enforcement.

“I wanted a large department; I wanted to be in a large city,” Sullivan said.

The new job also brings him closer to family, with his son and daughter-in-law planning to relocate soon to Kansas. He also has daughters living in Seattle and Chicago.

“I always said I wouldn’t take a chief’s job in any city where my children wouldn’t be highly motivated to come visit me,” Sullivan said, “and man, do you guys surely fit that bill.”

Kylie Cameron (she/her) is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, Kylie was a digital producer at KWCH, and served as editor in chief of The Sunflower at Wichita State. You can follow her on Twitter @bykyliecameron.
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