WICHITA, Kan. — Wichita’s police chief is looking for ways to accept at least some candidates who are currently being turned away for police jobs.

Chief Gordon Ramsay said he wants candidates who know what it’s like to deal with hard time, include those who have crimes in their past, The Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/2cCD76b ) reported.

“I would like to hire more people that have struggled in life and understand those hardships,” Ramsay said.

Neither the Wichita Police Department nor the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office currently accepts job applications from anyone with criminal convictions, including minor cases such as shoplifting.

A driving force behind the policies is preventing credibility issues from arising should that officer be called to testify in court. Various court cases have ruled that prosecutors have to disclose to defense attorneys any information that would challenge the credibility of the state’s witnesses.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said that when it comes to an officer’s credibility becoming an issue in court because of a past indiscretion, “I can sit here and brainstorm a half-dozen scenarios where it would be immaterial.” He added, though, that “on some cases, it’d be really, really important – if, say, they claim the evidence was planted.”

Bennett said other states and law enforcement agencies are dealing with the same questions as they seek to diversify.

Local defense attorneys praised Ramsay’s intent.

“It’s encouraging to see the top brass of the Wichita Police Department recognize that people deserve second chances,” said Dan Monnat, of Monnat & Spurrier. “Each of us is better than the worst thing we have ever done.”


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com