ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Ramsay joins letter that calls for Wichita manager's resignation, seeks $2.5 million

Former Duluth and Wichita police chief Gordon Ramsay is asking that Wichita change its policy to make citizen complaints against city employees public, as well as the findings of related investigations and any discipline handed down.

Gordon Ramsay file
Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay visits with Kim Randolph, stabilization services director at the CHUM shelter in Duluth, on Jan. 13, 2016, shortly before leaving to become police chief in Wichita, Kansas.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune
We are part of The Trust Project.

WICHITA, Kan. — Former Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay has signed on to a legal complaint by his deputy chiefs that calls on City Manager Robert Layton to resign and seeks more than $2.5 million to settle a threatened lawsuit.

Civil rights attorney James Thompson released a 15-page statement Monday detailing Ramsay's claims against Layton, city Human Resources Director Chris Bezruki and the local police union, who he says conspired to undermine Ramsay's leadership.

The former chief, who left the department in March and was elected this month as sheriff of St. Louis County, Minnesota, is demanding $400,000 in damages, which he is "asking to be put towards hiring an independent investigator into ethical complaints against city leaders."

The former Duluth police chief defeated Undersheriff Jason Lukovsky in the office's first contested election in 20 years.

"This is not a 'disgruntled employee' but rather a unified display by the most senior leadership of the police department, which is unprecedented for any department anywhere in the country and should itself serve as a clear sign that there are serious problems within our city government," Thompson said in a statement.

As with the initial settlement demand, filed in September on behalf of Deputy Chiefs Jose Salcido, Chet Pinkston and former Deputy Chief Wanda Givens, Ramsay alleges that Layton, Bezruki and the Fraternal Order of Police repeatedly lied about and subverted efforts to address the "abhorrent subculture" of "a small cabal of some SWAT members and officers" in the department.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ramsay's administration did little to discipline SWAT officers involved in the sending of racist and inappropriate text messages. Multiple officers were later suspended by Interim Chief Lem Moore and Layton after an Eagle investigation into inaction by the city. A committee report from the city manager's office blamed police leadership — including Ramsay, Salcido and Pinkston — for mishandling the internal investigation.

But Ramsay's settlement demand tells a different story.

"Together with his executive staff of the Wichita Police Department, Chief Ramsay attempted on numerous occasions to root out and deal with those issues and implement much needed changes to create greater transparency and accountability," the letter states.

"Consequently, agents, employees, and staff of the City of Wichita defamed and retaliated against the Chief Ramsay and his executive staff of the Wichita Police Department and created a hostile work environment for not only Chief Ramsay and his executive staff, but also for anyone who dares try to report or fix problems within the city."

Layton has denied the accusations of corruption and obstruction made by Ramsay's executive team against him and Bezruki and said he will not resign. A city spokesperson on Monday said the manager could not comment on "pending litigation."

Bezruki and the FOP could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Fraternal Order of Police has said the deputy chiefs' letter "contains numerous false allegations and insinuations" about the union's relationship with the city HR director, including accusations that they lavished Bezruki with "gifts including expensive lunches" in exchange for favors.

The new letter also claims that Layton would not consider naming Salcido or Pinkston as interim chief when Ramsay left, alleging that Layton "told at least one applicant he wanted them to come in and discipline Deputy Chief Salcido and Deputy Chief Pinkston."

ADVERTISEMENT

"While it is good that the City hired a new police chief (and Chief Ramsay and his executive staff wish him well), it is doubtful he will have the success this City deserves so long as the systemic problems with corruption and lack of transparency remain and the Chief of Police is not allowed to make the needed changes because of interference by the FOP, Layton and Bezruki," the letter states.

Ramsay is asking that the city change its policy to make citizen complaints against city employees public, as well as the findings of related investigations and any discipline handed down.

Ramsay also calls for the city to publicly apologize and cover his legal fees. He wants Layton and Bezruki to recuse themselves from any third-party independent review and any disciplinary proceedings regarding Pinkston and Salcido.

In October, Wichita hired Joseph P. Sullivan, a former leader in the Philadelphia Police Department, to replace Ramsay as chief of the department. Sullivan beat out retired Miami-Dade Police Department veteran Mario R. Knapp.

"I have every confidence that (Sullivan) 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," Layton said of the new hire.

The city has also enlisted Jensen Hughes, a top law enforcement consulting firm, to audit the police force and recommend reforms. The firm issued sobering reports to the cities of Louisville and Minneapolis after the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

Jensen's assessment and report will investigate the breadth and depth of bias within the Wichita Police Department, focusing on racism, officer discipline, public oversight and violent interactions with civilians, according to the city's request for proposals.

Jensen is also being asked to weigh in on the disconnect between police leadership, city law, human resources, the city manager's office and elected officials, and to determine whether the Fraternal Order of Police has undue influence on officer discipline.
___

ADVERTISEMENT

(c)2022 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.)
Visit The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.) at www.kansas.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

What to read next
The Fargo-based company will make its first expansion into the Sioux Falls television market, which covers roughly half of South Dakota and parts of Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.