Wichita announces two out-of-state finalists for police chief

City of Wichita/Courtesy

The city of Wichita named two out-of-state finalists for the Wichita Police Department’s top position on Monday afternoon, according to city spokesperson Megan Lovely.

The candidates are Mario Knapp of Miami and Joseph Sullivan of Philadelphia.

Both candidates have decades of experience in law enforcement; neither is actively employed by a police department.

They were chosen by the city’s police chief search committee based on candidates identified by Public Sector Search & Consulting, a headhunting firm hired by the city.

Knapp, as recently as August, worked as a vice president at WRAP Technologies.

Sullivan resigned from one of the nation’s largest police departments during a leadership shake-up. Sullivan, according to NBC’s Philadelphia affiliate WCAU, told a reporter the departure was “not my decision.”

The move to hire a new Wichita chief follows months of controversy at City Hall and discord between police leadership and the city manager’s office after an Eagle investigation found former Chief Gordon Ramsay and his deputy chiefs did not discipline SWAT team officers who sent and received racist, sexist, violent and homophobic text messages.

Interim police chief Lemuel Moore, who took over after Ramsay, announced his retirement late August. His last day was Sep. 30. Former deputy chief Troy Livingston, who retired in 2019, is filling in temporarily.

Knapp and Sullivan have deep backgrounds in law enforcement.

Knapp was employed by the Miami-Dade Police Department starting in 1994 and served for 27 years before retiring in 2021. His most recent rank was police major.

In August 2021, Knapp was appointed vice president of training for WRAP Technologies, a company that produces restraints used by law enforcement to restrain individuals. WRAP technologies, although it shares its name, did not produce the controversial restraint system that was used on 17-year-old Cedric Lofton.

Sullivan held the second-highest commission in the Philadelphia Police Department as deputy commissioner of patrol operations until late 2020, when he resigned.

Sullivan joined the department in 1982 as an officer before being promoted to leadership roles where he oversaw several of the department’s units, according to the PPD website. He was also the department’s liaison to the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federation and the LGBTQ community.

Sullivan currently works for a private public safety equipment firm and serves on the board of directors for Families Behind the Badge Children’s Foundations. Since leaving Philadelphia, he has also applied to be chief of police in Akron, Ohio, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, online records show.

Sullivan said he has been asked to route all communications to the city. Knapp did not immediately respond to a message.

Wichita residents will be able to meet and ask both men questions at a candidate forum at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the Lotus Hall at Botanica, 701 Amidon.