Racial minorities, especially African Americans, are processed and disproportionally incarcerated at significantly higher rates when compared to white Americans. Building on the panel discussion from October 2018 that centered on the intersection of race and the criminal justice system, a panel of criminal justice experts representing the police, courts, and corrections, will identify and discuss specific strategies to reduce these racial disparities in criminal justice system, and continue the momentum of recent criminal justice reform efforts.
Dr. Michael Birzer, Professor, Wichita State University
Michael Birzer is a professor of criminal justice at Wichita State University. His research and specialization includes the intersection of race and the criminal justice system, police operations, and evidence based police practices. Professor Birzer has provided training and operational guidance to police agencies in such areas as biased based policing, procedural justice, and community policing strategies. He has published 13 books on policing and criminal justice, and over 75 scholarly journal articles and research technical reports. Professor Birzer earned his BS and MA degrees in the Administration of Justice from Wichita State University, and his doctorate from Oklahoma State University. Prior to entering academia, he served in law enforcement retiring in 1999 at the rank of lieutenant from the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department.
The Honorable Seth L. Rundle, District Court Judge, Eighteenth Judicial District of Kansas
Seth Rundle is a Criminal Department judge of the Sedgwick County District Court, the state trial level court of general jurisdiction. He and the other nine criminal department judges each oversee dockets of about 500 criminal cases, about half of which involve post-conviction felons and misdemeanants on probation supervision. He is a graduate of Benedictine College (Atchison, Kansas), William & Mary law school (Williamsburg, VA), and the Air Force Air Command and Staff College. He has previously served as a Sedgwick County public defender and as an active duty Air Force assistant staff judge advocate. From 2013 to 2019, he was an advisory board member to Community Correction, the agency that supervises higher risk felons on probation in Sedgwick County.
Mark Bennett, District Attorney, Sedgwick County, KS.
Before his election to the position of District Attorney, Marc Bennett was a Deputy District Attorney and served in the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office for 15 years supervising the Trial Division encompassing the prosecution of sex crimes, human trafficking, domestic violence and elder abuse. Mr. Bennett completed his undergraduate degree in History from Kansas State University and his law degree degree from Washburn University. He is on the Board of Directors of the National District Attorneys Association. He is the Homicide Section Chief for the Kansas County and District Attorneys Association as well as a member of the Board of Directors. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center, the Sedgwick County Child Advocacy Center, the Kansas Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Advisory Board (HTAB), and a faculty member of Finding Words Kansas. He is also an appointee to the Kansas Prosecutor’s Grievance and Ethics Committee. Mr. Bennett has made countless presentations including to the Kansas Legislature, the National Advocacy Center in South Carolina, the FBI Annual C.O.D.I.S. (Combined DNA Index System) symposium in Washington, D. C., the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, the Mid-States Homicide Investigator’s Association regarding Sexual Homicide, The Crimes Against Children Conference in Dallas, the Attorney General’s Crimes Against Children Conference, in Wyoming, and The Crimes Against Children Conference – “Protect Our Children”, Wichita, Kansas.
Chief Gordon Ramsay, Wichita Police Department
Chief Ramsay has been the Wichita Police Chief since January 2016. Prior to coming to Wichita, he served as police chief in Duluth, MN beginning in 2006. He was appointed to that position at the age of 34 and was the youngest chief in the city’s history. Chief Ramsay got an early start in policing at the age of 20 and has been committed to the community policing philosophy since the beginning of his career. Since coming to Wichita, he has focused on pushing officers closer to the communities they serve, building relationships, increasing the use of technology and reducing crime. Chief Ramsay has his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology and Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Management and is a past President of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association. He is currently on the Board of the Wichita area YMCA’s and the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas. Chief Ramsay lives in Wichita with his wife of over 20 years and two young children.
Captain Wendell Nicholson, Wichita Police Department
Captain Wendell Nicholson is a native of Wichita and a 24-year veteran of the Wichita Police Department who began his career on July 19, 1993. After graduating the academy, Wendell served as a Patrol Officer in the Patrol North and Patrol East Bureaus. As a Patrol Officer, Wendell served in the Tactical Patrol Unit, a SCAT Officer, and he was assigned to the Drive-By Task Force.
In June of 1997, Wendell was promoted to the rank of Detective and saw assignments in West Property Crimes, the Gang/Felony Assault Section, and Professional Standards, the Training Bureau as a Background Investigator and Polygraph Examiner and Auto Theft. In April of 2016, Wendell was promoted to the rank of Sergeant assigned to Patrol West 2nd Watch. In April of 2017 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and saw assignments in both Patrol West and Patrol South. Wendell was promoted to the rank of Captain in April of 2018 and is currently the Bureau Commander of Patrol East. Wendell earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Administration of Justice/Microbiology from Wichita State University, and earned a Master’s in Criminal Justice from Wichita State. Wendell is also a 2017 graduate of the Northwestern University Center of Public Safety, School of police Staff and Command. Wendell is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and he has coached AAU basketball for over 20 years and mentored hundreds of young men in the Wichita community over the years. He is also the President of the Kansas chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and he is an active member of the Wichita branch of the NAACP.
Glenda R. Martens, Director, Sedgwick County Division of Corrections
Glenda Martens is a graduate of Wichita State University with Bachelors in Criminal Justice and she earned a Master’s degree in Administration of Justice. Glenda began working in corrections in 1994 as an adult and juvenile Court Services Officer for the 19th Judicial District in Winfield, Kansas. In 1998, she was the assigned facilitator for the 19th Judicial District Planning Team to develop and implement the juvenile justice strategic plan. She was promoted as the Administrator for Cowley County Youth Services in 2000 to develop and implement the juvenile justice programs, grants and oversee all daily operations. In addition, Glenda was appointed by Governor Graves to serve on the Kansas Advisory Group on Delinquency and Prevention from 1999 through 2003.
Mark Orr, Chief Public Defender, Sedgwick County, KS
Mark has been the Chief Public Defender of the Sedgwick County Public Defender’s office since August 2017. He has been a member of the Public Defender’s office since 1994. Before that, he served as chief staff attorney of Legal Services for Prisoners Inc. in the Kansas prison system. He has been practicing law since 1986.