The City of Fort Worth welcomed its first African-American police chief, Joel Fitzgerald, to the team in October. Fitzgerald, who has more than 20 years of experience, is a graduate of the Harvard University Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program, the FBI National Academy-Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar Program, DEA-Drug Unit Commanders Academy, Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command and the Police Executive Research Forum and holds a doctorate and master’s in business administration.
He was chosen as Fort Worth’s new chief over five finalists in the city’s nine-month search. His leadership style is to encourage participation and promote transparency.
“It’s about being part of the community,” Fitzgerald said. “The community needs to see [police] as a resource, as partners.”
I don’t want kids to run away when they see a police officer, Fitzgerald said. “We are there to walk kids through some tough times in their lives. We shouldn’t be viewed as the occupying force that makes you run away when we pull up on the corner,” he said.
Fitzgerald, previously police chief in Allentown, Pa. for two years, a city of roughly 120,000 people, said he’s looking forward to the challenge that this new position will bring him.
City Manager David Cooke made the official decision to hire Fitzgerald and reported that he will begin with an annual salary of $205,000. He will be reporting directly to Assistant City Manager Valerie Washington.
“Chief Fitzgerald will be a dynamic asset to Fort Worth,” Cooke said. “He brings to our city a vast amount of experience, knowledge and service in the field, along with his passion for serving and protecting our communities.”
Prior to Allentown, he was police chief in Missouri City, Texas, for four years and won numerous awards for community policing.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price admires his 2010 NAACP award in community policing. “His emphasis on community policing was one of the reasons he was chosen as our next chief,” Price said. “He also knows there are issues to be faced and changes to be made.”
“We can avoid some of the pitfalls that some of the other cities have seen by just having better relationships with members of the community,” Fitzgerald said when discussing the recent controversial police shootings around the country.
Published by: Fort Worth Magazine