Viral Arrest Video Tests Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald

“Sometimes it’s more than being the occupying force. Sometimes it’s involving ourselves in the fabric of the community.”

By Christopher ConnellyJanuary 5, 2017 9:56 am, , ,

From KERA News

A viral video of a white Fort Worth police officer forcefully arresting a black woman and her daughters has put a spotlight on the city’s police chief, Joel Fitzgerald. As the investigation is beginning to wrap up, many are waiting to see how he handles the fallout.

The video showed the officer pulling his Taser and wrestling Jacqueline Craig and one of her daughters to the ground after Craig had called the police for help. She said her neighbor had assaulted her 7-year-old son. Before he arrested Craig, he questioned her parenting, which led to a heated exchange.

Back when Fitzgerald arrived in the fall of 2015, during his first public appearance in Fort Worth after being named police chief, he laid out a progressive policing philosophy. Surrounded by city leadership, police brass, and leaders from across Fort Worth’s diverse communities, he talked about building stronger bonds between the department and residents.

“Sometimes it’s more than being the occupying force. Sometimes it’s involving ourselves in the fabric of the community,” Fitzgerald said. “And that’s one thing that I promise in my time here is that we engage the community members actively, that we listen. And we build an inclusive Fort Worth Police Department.”

More than a year later, that viral arrest video, which has caused tension and protests, may be the biggest test yet for the city’s first African-American police chief.

At a press conference just after Christmas, a group of black Fort Worth faith leaders demanded the officer from the video fired and prosecuted. They wanted more action to build trust with the community.

Still, Rev. B. R. Daniels, Jr., of First Greater New Hope Baptist Church had praise for the chief.

“I do want to applaud our chief, Chief Joel Fitzgerald, who has an open door policy, who has been willing to come to our communities and our churches, and who has gone back and has diligently fought to make our concerns manifest,” Daniels said.

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