The City of Wichita would have us believe that former Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams retired to spend more time with his family. While the Chief had hinted at retirement for roughly one year prior to announcing the end of his career with the department, that is not the reason he left so abruptly.
The day before Chief Williams announced his retirement on August 14 of 2014, the United States Attorney’s Office held a Civil Rights Symposium at Wichita State University. Chief Williams was in attendance at this event, along with many community leaders who had been highly critical of the Chief’s performance.
To say that the Chief was openly criticized in this forum would be an understatement. The symposium was facilitated by United States Attorney Barry Grissom, who was approached by certain influential members of the community. Those community leaders told Grissom that the department needed change, and that the needed transition would not be possible under Chief Williams’ leadership.
The very next day, Chief Williams announced his retirement. Rather than announcing a retirement that would take effect several months from that day, as most honorable retirements from such positions would dictate, the Chief left almost immediately, after 39 years on the force. His last official day as Chief was September 5, a few short weeks after his announcement, but he took vacation time from the day after his announcement until the 5th of September, so he really left when he announced.
To put this into perspective, the Sedgwick County Manager, William Buchanan, announced his retirement on October 15, 2014, but he will not officially retire until June 15, 2015. The reason Buchanan announced his position eight months prior to leaving the office he held for 18 years is because this gives the county ample time to find a replacement, and to make a smooth transition, something the Chief did not do.
Shortly after Chief Williams announced his retirement, certain reporters filed Kansas Open Records Act requests to determine how many officers in the Wichita Police Department were on the Brady/Giglio list, a list of officers who, due to instances of dishonesty in their past, were not able to sign affidavits. Then, the same reporters filed the same requests the day after the Chief officially left office, and the number of officers on the Brady/Giglio list had decreased by one.
The department confirmed that Chief Williams was the only employee who left during that short time period, which verfied that Williams was in fact on the list of officers with credibility issues. The record requests were not filed by coincidence, but rather because there were rumors that Williams was on the list, information that could have only come from the Chief’s rivals within the department.
Chief Williams retired because of pressure from community leaders due to his complete and utter failure to address severe misconduct issues within the department, and for the lack of transparency that his administration operated under, presumably, with a suggestion from our U.S. Attorney, Barry Grissom.