Policy & Procedures
Recently, WPD has received many questions from media, community members, and stakeholders on WPD's training, practices, policies, and procedures. In response to these valid questions, WPD developed a comprehensive response to the community. To read the responses in their entirety, please download the 2020 WPD Response to the Community (PDF).
WPD Policy and regulations specifically prohibit WPD officers from impeding normal breathing or blood circulation by applying pressure to the throat or neck unless lethal force is justified, or utilizing a baton or similar object as a chokehold for a containment or takedown procedure. This is stated in WPD policy 906 and regulation 4.114.
WPD will be training all department members in ABLE, Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement.
The use of force authorization and limitations section of use of force policy 906 states: "Officers are prohibited from impeding normal breathing or blood circulation by applying pressure to the throat or neck unless lethal force is justified." and WPD regulation 4.114 states: "Members utilizing a baton should direct defensive bowls towards strategic areas of the body, avoiding the head and neck area. Utilization of a chokehold using a police baton is prohibited as a containment or take-down procedure. Such action shall be taken only as a defensive measure and only as a last resort to prevent death or great bodily harm to the member or another person. Members will utilize methods consistent with departmental training."
The policy and regulation specifically prohibits WPD officers from impeding normal breathing or blood circulation by applying pressure to the throat or neck unless lethal force is justified, or utilizing a baton or similar object as a chokehold for containment or takedown procedure.
WPD has implemented de-escalation language into its use-of-force policy 906. Beginning in 2023, WPD will be training all department personnel in ICAT, Integrating communications, Assessment, and Tactics. In 2016, WPD began focusing on de-escalation techniques to resolve situations without the use of force by utilizing time, distance, and communication. WPD has had significant success in using these techniques and diminishing, wherever possible, having to use force when dealing with those in crisis.
Learn more information about ICAT on the Policeforum.org - ICAT Training Guide page.
The de-escalation section of the Use of Force Policy 906 states:
- "De-escalation techniques and tactics include, but are not limited to:
- Remaining calm and professional.
- Decreasing the exposure to the potential threat by using distance or physical barriers between an uncooperative subject and an officer.
- Engage in tactical communications including active listening. Communication with the subject should be limited to one officer at a time in order to ensure clear communication.
- Requesting and utilizing additional officers whenever necessary. If one officer is unable to build rapport with a subject, another officer may be given an opportunity to communicate with the subject whenever possible.
- Tactical positioning, repositioning, and pause when necessary.
- Leveraging time by slowing down the situation.
- When safe and feasible under the totality of circumstances, officers should attempt to slow down or stabilize the situation so more time, options and resources are available for incident resolution. When time and circumstances permit, officers should assess whether a person's lack of compliance is a deliberate attempt to resist or an inability to comply based on factors including but not limited to:
- Medical conditions.
- Mental impairments.
- Developmental disability.
- Physical limitation.
- Language barrier.
- Drug interaction and/or intoxication.
- Behavior crisis.
- Emotional response/fear.
- An officer's awareness of these possibilities shall be balanced against the facts of the incident when deciding which de-escalation and use of force options are the most appropriate to bring the situation to a safe resolution."
- In 2016, WPD began focusing on de-escalation techniques to resolve situations without the use of force by utilizing time, distance, and communication. WPD has had significant success in using these techniques and diminishing, wherever possible, having to use force when dealing with those in crisis.
- New officers, as well as veteran officers, are trained in de-escalation tactics. The training includes the use of active listening skills, commonly used by crisis negotiators, to de-escalate high-risk situations. WPD has ongoing training for the use of these communication techniques for all officers throughout the year.
- Multiple steps have been taken over the past several years to emphasize de-escalation techniques:
- Since 2016, WPD has tripled the number of crisis negotiators with specialized training in communication and are able to assist with crises and highly volatile situations.
- Mental health training for officers is a priority. All WPD officers have received mental health training up to and including the comprehensive Crisis Intervention Team training.
- WPD has implemented de-escalation language into use-of-force policy 906.
WPD has revised its use-of-force policy to include a specific direction on duty to intervene. The language is stated in Policy 906. The duty to intervene was incorporated into WPD training for both new and veteran officers since 2016.
WPD will be training all department members in ABLE, Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement.
The duty to intervene section of Use of Force Policy 906 states: "Any officer observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances, when in a position to do so must intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force. An officer who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law should promptly report these observations to a supervisor."
WPD has revised its use-of-force policy to include a specific direction on duty to intervene. The duty to intervene has also been incorporated into WPD training for both new and veteran officers for several years.
WPD policy 906 prohibits shooting at moving vehicles and states: "Firearms shall not be discharged at a moving vehicle unless deadly force is necessary and exigent circumstances exist." This is also trained to all WPD officers throughout their law enforcement careers.
The section of policy 906 that prohibits shooting at moving vehicles states: "Firearms shall not be discharged at a moving vehicle unless deadly force is necessary and the following exigent circumstances exist:
- A person in the vehicle is immediately threatening the officer or another person with deadly force by means other than the vehicle.
- The vehicle is intentionally and deliberately being used as a 12 deadly weapon, and all other reasonable means of defense have been exhausted, or are not present or piratical.
- To prevent the threat of being struck by a vehicle, officers should make every effort to avoid putting themselves in the path of any moving vehicle and when such positioning is unavoidable, to move out of the vehicle's path as soon as practical."
WPD trains all of its officers on the use of force continuum which outlines clear rules of engagement corresponding to different levels of resistance. Use of force is described in detail in WPD policy 906.
The purpose section of policy 906 states: "The Wichita Police Department values and respects the sanctity of every life and identifies our role as a lifesaving organization. When officers are engaged in police activities there is an immense responsibility that comes with the authority to use reasonable force, including deadly force, in overcoming resistance and protecting the public. As such, we have policies, procedures, and training which encourage tactics and strategies to gain voluntary compliance. It is the Wichita Police Department's expectation officers will make tactically sound and reasonable use of force decisions which demonstrate our value of every life."
The "8cantwait" initiative defines the force continuum as restricting "the most severe types of force to the most extreme situations" and "creating clear policy restrictions on the use of each police weapon and tactic."
We agree and WPD's training is consistent with this. Deadly force is clearly restricted to extreme situations, and the use of specific tools/ techniques is specifically restricted in our use of force policy.
Additionally, WPD has specific language in policy 913 outlining when medical attention has to be sought.
The referral/transport for medical attention section of policy 913 states:
- "A member should monitor a suspect on which any use of force, with or without a weapon, was used to detect any obvious signs of medical problems or extreme reaction and summon medical assistance if, in the discretion of the member, there are doubts to the health of the person.
- In addition, if the suspect exhibits any of the conditions and/ or symptoms mentioned below, officers shall either summon medical assistance or transport the subject to a medical facility. The subject is unconscious even for a short period of time. Visible Seizure; Obvious significant injury from a fall or take-down; Subject states or appears that to have chest pain or trouble breathing; Subject displays persistent confusion or altered mental state; Subject requests emergency medical assistance; Type 2 or higher force is used against a subject who is pregnant; and Use of a CEW on juvenile (17 years of age or younger).
- A suspect shall be examined by a physician or qualified health care provider prior to interrogation when suffering from, or complaining of, injury or illness or when the individual: Is struck on the head with an impact weapon or other hard object; Is restrained about the neck or throat which resulted in the subject going unconscious; and 14 Is subject to a CEW application, in which a significant secondary injury to the head occurred.
- Medical care and physician release information shall be documented in the report of the officer having custody at the time of treatment. Suspect's refusal of medical treatment shall be documented and verified by the officers in their report."
All WPD recruits undergo a 24-week academy training before their additional field training upon graduation from the academy. The training hours provided for them at the Wichita Law Enforcement Training Center is well beyond the minimum required hours by the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (KLETC). KLETC requires a minimum of 572 training hours. WPD extends the requirement to 904 to complete the training academy.
During the academy, the recruits receive training on but not limited to the following:
- Implicit Bias
- Fair and Impartial Policing
- Mental Health
- Officer Wellness and Resiliency
- Constitutional Law and Code
- Juvenile Intervention
- Domestic Violence Intervention
- Interpersonal Communication
- Behavior and Crisis Management
- Community Cultural Awareness
Additionally, the recruits undergo almost 200 hours of Defensive Tactics training and scenarios throughout the academy. The scenario-based training provides the recruit the opportunity to apply their knowledge of the law, de-escalation, interpersonal communication techniques, and skills in different environments. Communication with people of all kinds of backgrounds and mental abilities is stressed throughout the academy.
Upon graduation from the academy, the new officer then begins 12 weeks of intensive one-on-one training with a Field Training Officer while responding to 911 calls. They are evaluated upon their safety, investigation ability, report writing, and communication with the public.
Embedded Social Workers
WPD has sought grants and funding every year since 2016 to add embedded social workers into WPD to help with mental health-related calls. This opportunity became a reality this year in collaboration with the Department for Children and Families. Two social workers are now embedded within the police department, and they assist WPD in connecting families with public health programs for parent skill building, mental health or substance abuse services, and similar safety network supports.
Integrated Care Team-Co-Responder for Mental Health Crises
WPD has been part of the Integrated Care Team (ICT1) since its pilot inception in 2019. With increasing calls related to mental health, it was important to develop a team composed of law enforcement, paramedics, and mental health professionals to assist those in crisis and allow patrol officers to be available for emergency calls. WPD was instrumental in seeking continual funding for this program, allowing it to continue after the 90-day pilot period last year. The efforts of this integrated team have positively impacted working with citizens in crisis and providing the best quality services to the community.
Community Liaison Positions
WPD created liaison positions with disenfranchised communities, including LBGTQ, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern Culture, Autism, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Mental Health, and homelessness. Additionally, WPD created a Hispanic/Latino advisory board.
WPD Homeless Outreach Team (HOT)
WPD created a HOT, which is responsible for responding to all 911 calls regarding homeless individuals or calls for service. The HOT focuses on trying to keep homeless citizens out of jail, if possible, and divert them to appropriate services or shelters. This team was deemed the best in practice in the nation by the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation (VCPI) after evaluating 50 police homeless outreach teams across the country in 2019.
WPD believes in and is committed to transparency between the police and the community. In an effort to be transparent, all WPD field officers received training and were equipped with body-worn cameras (BWC). In 2024, WPD will be upgrading BWC to include new, high-quality cameras, and adding additional technology to ensure cameras are activated when appropriate. The BWC is utilized by officers to record their interactions between police and the community. The goals of the cameras are as follows:
- To improve officer accountability and transparency to the public they serve.
- To enhance officer and public safety.
- To accurately document statements and events during the course of an incident.
- To enhance the officer's ability to document and review statements and actions for both internal reporting requirements and for courtroom preparation/testimony.
- To preserve visual and audio information for use in current and future investigations.
- To provide an impartial measurement for self-critique and field evaluation during officer training or coaching and mentoring sessions.
- To enhance public trust by preserving factual representations of officer-citizen interactions in the form of video and audio recordings.
Read more about specific guidelines on WPD BWCs Policy 706.
Since 2016, WPD has purchased additional BWCs, allowing for WPD field sergeants to be trained and issued a BWC in addition to all field officers. Also, WPD is participating in a U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Kansas pilot program, allowing for WPD federally deputized task force officers to utilize BWCs while operating as a task force officer in connection to a federal agency.