With the ouster of Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald last week, attention is turning to what the city should look for in its next police chief.
City leaders say they aren’t rushing to fill the spot, and that they’re confident Interim Chief Ed Kraus, who was sworn in Tuesday, will lead the nearly department and its nearly 1,700 sworn officers, in the meantime. Assistant City Manager Jay Chapa oversees the police department, and says he’s happy with the leadership team at Fort Worth PD, and that crime is down.
“First quarter crime stats came in and we’re lower than last year, overall,” Chapa said. “I think the department’s doing great, regardless of how folks were looking at the angst with the police chief in different areas.”
Before he was fired, Fitzgerald had rocky relationships with city leadership, with rank and file members of his department, and, at times, with leaders from the city’s black communities.
Chapa says the next chief will need to be a stronger collaborator, and have an open mind. He’ll be looking for someone who is a leader, “but leads by example and leads by inclusion and by taking others’ ideas [seriously], and is going to work well within the city organization, not just the police department.”
Fort Worth Police Officers’ Association President Manny Ramirez says morale is up with Fitzgerald out. The appointment of Kraus, a 26-year veteran of the force, was seen as a positive sign among many in the department, he said.
The union leader credited Fitzgerald with successes, like improving the department’s technology, but said many officers weren’t sure that Fitzgerald had their back. He says he’s looking for the next chief to be transparent, egalitarian and willing to give officers the tools and the latitude to do their jobs.