Two top assistants in Fort Worth are among six finalists to become the next police chief, officials announced Wednesday.
The list includes five men: the two Fort Worth assistant police chiefs, a retired Houston executive assistant police chief, an assistant police chief in San Antonio and the police chief in Allentown, Pa. The sixth candidate, a woman, is a senior instructor with the FBI law enforcement executive leadership development program in Seattle.
Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke said having two internal candidates speaks well for the Police Department.
They are Kenneth Dean, who has been with the department since 1992 and was recently promoted to assistant police chief to command 1,000 sworn and civilian personnel, and Abdul Pridgen, who has also been with the department since 1992. He serves as an assistant police chief over finance and personnel, supervising 174 employees.
The four remaining candidates “bring different experiences and backgrounds into consideration,” Cooke said. “All of the candidates have experience working in large, urban police departments.”
The other finalists:
▪ Jose Banales, a 32-year veteran of the San Antonio department and an assistant police chief since 2010.
▪ Joel Fitzgerald, police chief in Allentown, a city of about 119,000, who was also police chief in Missouri City, Texas, and served on the Philadelphia Police Department.
▪ Anne Kirkpatrick, a senior instructor with the FBI and previously chief deputy in King County, Wash.
▪ Kirk Munden, who retired in 2014 as executive assistant police chief in Houston, where he served for 33 years.
Rick Van Houten, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association, said his organization is “extremely pleased with the candidates. It’s a very diverse group with a vast amount of experience and knowledge.”
More than 1,800 employees work in the department
The new chief will replace Jeff Halstead, who stepped down Jan. 8, two months after announcing his retirement and his plans to start a consulting firm. He had been chief since December 2008, arriving from the Phoenix Police Department.
In January, Atlanta-based Slavin Management Consultants began a nationwide search for the department’s 25th chief. A salary range was not released.
Assistant Chief Rhonda Robertson was named interim chief. She has said she is not interested in the job and also plans to retire.
The new chief will lead a growing department with more than 1,800 employees and a $300 million budget. In recent years, the department has also been embroiled in legal matters over allegations of racial discrimination in its ranks, an overtime pay scandal and a rash of drunken-driving incidents involving officers.
The six finalists were chosen from a group that was narrowed to eight individuals who have undergone background checks.
A Star-Telegram check of the candidates shows that some finalists have been considered for other top positions or are still in the running.
In January, Banales was among four finalists for police chief in Aurora, Colo. Munden was once a finalist for police chief in Houston, and Kirkpatrick was a semifinalist for Seattle police chief. Fitzgerald is in the running for the top spot on the Wichita, Kan., police force.
Cooke, who will hire the new chief, has vowed to make the selection process public, with a community question-and-answer forum set for next week.
The finalists will have interviews with city staff, police management personnel, police and general government employees, volunteers involved in supporting the Police Department and a panel of business leaders. Feedback from those groups will determine when a new chief is named, Cooke said.
Mayor Betsy Price said she looks forward to getting input from residents.
This pool of candidates represents the diversity of our great city, and I am confident one of these individuals is a perfect leader for an outstanding police department.
Mayor Betsy Price
“This pool of candidates represents the diversity of our great city, and I am confident one of these individuals is a perfect leader for outstanding police department,” Price said.
Staff writers Mitch Mitchell and Ryan Osborne contributed to this report.
▪ A community forum with the six finalists is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex, 501 W. Felix St. The mayor and council members will meet the candidates an hour before the forum.
▪ The city staff has already started fielding questions from the public for the event. Residents can submit questions at www.yourfortworth.org. Questions can also be submitted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 817-392-8085.