The president of a group representing minority police officers is calling for Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead’s termination, saying he has “irreparably harmed the careers of many minority officers.”
Sgt. Roy Hudson, president of the Fort Worth Black Law Enforcement Officers’ Association, made the request Friday afternoon after releasing an earlier statement critical of a recent outside investigation into grievances filed by three black officers.
Hudson said the report didn’t get to the heart of the issue or address actions taken by the chief.
“Through his acts of commission and omission, he has irreparably harmed the careers of many minority officers, and irrevocably severed any line of trust between himself and minority officers,” Hudson said.
“The FWBLEOA will be satisfied with the removal of Chief Halstead and hiring a new Chief who is responsive to everyone’s needs, and not just those of the majority. A Chief who will not treat any member of our department disparately, regardless of race. We cannot move forward constructively, confidently, and without the fear of reprisal, with Chief Halstead leading our Department,” Hudson said in a statement.
Halstead declined to comment Friday afternoon on the call for his termination.
In a statement sent to the Star-Telegram, Nestor B. Martinez, president of the Fort Worth Chapter of the National Latino Peace Officers Association, said that “if the findings of these complaints support inappropriate actions and violations against our Department’s leader it is our hope that measures are taken to bring accountability for his role.”
The investigation by Coleman & Associates into grievances of three black officers found no hard evidence of racial discrimination in the department, but noted that there were instances of hostile and harassing behavior, according to a summary report released to the media Wednesday.
The full report was released late Friday afternoon.
Problems in the past
Hudson has called the scope of the investigation “narrow” and said major issues were not addressed.
“There is a much bigger picture and many more incidents of racial inequity and disparate treatment of minority officers within our department which have previously been brought to Chief Halstead’s attention by both minority associations,” Hudson wrote. “The Coleman Report investigated only 3 such incidents.”
In a statement to the Star-Telegram on Friday morning, Halstead responded: “It would mean the world to me if the executive board of the BPOA reached out to me and expressed a desire to work these issues out directly with me.
“I remain very optimistic we can build a strong partnership but this is their decision. It has been almost 4 years since they have invited me to a formal board meeting. I have apologized to both of their Presidents in the past 2 years, Sergeant/s Dalco and Hudson, in person, with a formal letter, and even in my YouTube video,” Halstead said. “If I am not invited to a board meeting, I simply do not have an opportunity to build a relationship and work on these issues as a team.”
Hudson said Friday the association shouldn’t have to reach out to Halstead.
“He should reach out to his officers who have shown concern for the last 5 1/2 years,” he said.
It is not the first time Halstead, who became police chief in December 2008, has heard calls for his removal because of racial unrest.
In September 2011, several minority leaders called on Halstead to resign immediately because of what they described as pervasive “bullying, intimidating and threatening” of minorities by Fort Worth police officers.
The appeal came shortly before the announcement that a Tarrant County grand jury had declined to indict officer J. Romer in the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Charal “RaRa” Thomas on Feb. 28. Thomas’ death after a traffic stop led to protests of what some people saw as a pattern of excessive force by police against minorities. Thomas was black; Romer is white.
Police issued a news release saying their own investigation found that Romer had “acted within policy and within the law.”
Concerns about meeting
In November, the city agreed to pay $45,000 to Coleman & Associates Consultants to investigate the grievances filed by the three officers with the city’s Human Resources Department in the summer of 2013.
Two of the complaints, filed by Sgt. Delbert Johnson and Lt. E.G. Edney, involved race-based discriminatory harassment and treatment that the officers said they encountered while assigned to the department’s traffic division.
A third, by Sgt. Dwayne Dalco, the former president of the Black Law Enforcement Officers Association, says he was made the focus of an internal affairs investigation after Halstead learned that he and Hudson had met with Assistant City Manager Charles Daniels.
The full report noted that Halstead believed the [FWBOPA was] “in violation of Meet and Confer when they met with the Assistant City Manager” and that Halstead had been told “with good confidence” that the meeting “did not violate the Meet and Confer contract.”
The report stated that Halstead said his issue was not with the black officers “but with the Assistant City Manager.”
Hudson said the summary report, as well as an apology video by the chief posted on YouTube Tuesday, failed to address Halstead’s actions in reference to the grievance filed by Dalco. Hudson alleges that in addition to his inappropriate use of internal affairs, the chief “targeted” Dalco shortly after the sergeant filed the racial discrimination grievance.
“Our members are outraged by the intimidation practices that were utilized,” Hudson wrote.
Hudson also points out that the recommendations suggested by Coleman & Associates indicate much needed training for officers and supervisors regarding diversity, inclusion and respect.
“It is our hope that Chief Halstead would be held accountable for the same,” Hudson said.
With his response statement, Halstead included a letter he had reportedly sent Dalco, dated Oct. 10, 2013, expressing his interest in building a partnership with the minority association, apologizing for any harm he caused by his decision to initiate the internal affairs review, and saying he respected Dalco’s decision to file a grievance.
“Your request for an independent review/investigation into decisions made by me as Chief of Police is in fact needed if anyone feels I exceeded my authority,” Halstead wrote.
Mayor Betsy Price declined to comment on Hudson’s criticism of the study, but reiterated Friday that “the citizens are counting on Chief Halstead and city management to appropriately address the findings of this report. What we need right now is for everyone to come together and work toward a positive resolution for the good our our community.”
In a written statement, Terry Daffron Porter, an attorney who has represented numerous disciplined officers, said: “I have read both reports and seen the chief’s video. Scripted words are hollow, actions speak louder than words. I challenge the chief to take action, not only to make sweeping changes in the future but more importantly to take a hard look at the treatment of other minority officers in the traffic unit and department-wide and their disciplinary cases.
“As you said, ‘We can do better.’ Then I ask you to ‘do better’ by all the officers affected by the complete failure of key members your supervisory staff.”
Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655