Does a recorded phone call with a small Kansas police department reveal that officers there are blatant racists, using the “N word” and referencing hair, food stamps and “baby mama drama”?
The municipality of Eastborough (pop. 773) is a relatively quiet, high-priced residential neighborhood surrounded by Wichita. Most of it is nestled between two of Wichita’s busiest streets, Woodlawn and Rock Road, and its low 20 mph speed limit makes it a speed trap for drivers passing through.
“An African-American woman in Wichita … claims officers in the small city of Eastborough called her a ‘f- n-‘ and made fun of her hair after she called to inquire about a speeding ticket from a few years prior,” reporter Meko Haze wrote on TheDailyHaze.com, which broke the story on May 14.
KWCH Channel 12 picked up the story on May 15. “After the conversation ended, she thought the department hung up the phone but it did not,” KWCH reported. “That’s when the woman heard the conversation on the other end of the phone and her friend started to record what they heard. That’s when she reached out to Factfinder12. We’ve agreed not to release the woman’s full name for safety reasons.”
The woman says she and her friend put the phone call on mute, started recording and listened for nearly 20 minutes.
The woman believes when she called to ask about her traffic ticket, the officer on the other end realized she was Black, KWCH reported. On the recording, you can hear someone laughing and saying “f…ing (racial slur)” followed up by “what’s with the hair?” The woman says the conversation also included “she must have food stamps and she sounds like she has baby mama, baby daddy drama.”
The woman provided the recording to KWCH. The TV station says it verified the call by showing the phone number to Eastborough Police. Mayor Danny Wallace confirmed an incoming call to the department at that time, and says the city is investigating whether members of its police department made racist comments on a phone call with a citizen.
Wallace told KWCH the city began investigating within hours of receiving the recording. He confirmed there were more than two people in the room at the time of the call. He wants to assure the public the city is taking this seriously. He says a deputy chief, who was not in the room at the time of the call, is leading the investigation.
The Eastborough Police Dept. is comprised of five men, according to the department website, which appears to have been last updated in 2018.
Local activist A.J. Bohannon says an outside agency should also be called in to investigate, KWCH reported.
“We’re looking for an outside agency to come in and take care of this case because we can’t depend on them to internally handle this,” said Bohannon. “This is not a case of they might have said it. This is not a case of did they say it. It’s black and white – it’s on the tape. They can’t deny it.”
Wallace says he and the city attorney will decide whether to include an outside agency. He hopes to have the results of the internal investigation soon.
Bohannon says this is an opportunity for the small community of Eastborough to do the right thing. He’s considering whether to protest. Wallace says he would welcome a protest and would even provide space and traffic control.
The woman hopes this sends a strong message.
“People need to stop the racism because we’re all the same,” she told KWCH.