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Phoenix police commander picked to be Fort Worth chief

FORT WORTH -- Jeff Halstead, a 45-year-old police official from Phoenix, has been selected to be Fort Worth's new police chief, City Manager Dale Fisseler announced Tuesday.

Halstead is currently the commander of the Phoenix Police Department's Homeland Security Bureau.

The City Council will vote on the recommendation Nov. 11.

"This has been a tough decision because we had a number of outstanding candidates," Fisseler said.

The city has been searching for a new chief since Ralph Mendoza retired earlier this year after a 35-year career.

Halstead beat out Pat Kneblick, the ranking deputy chief of the Fort Worth department who has been filling in since Mendoza retired, and Atlanta Deputy Chief George Turner.

Halstead has been with the Phoenix department since 1988 and previously served as a sergeant in charge of media relations.

If confirmed by the council, Halstead will begin his new duties in December.

The Fort Worth Police Officers’ Association supported Halstead’s hire "100 percent," said Rick Van Houten, association president.

"During the interview process, he proved himself to be an energetic, innovative and intelligent leader, and he has the potential to lead the Fort Worth Police Department into the future," Van Houten said.

"We know that is was a difficult decision for the city manager. We believe he made a wise decision."

Van Houten added that the association wanted to thank Kneblick for her service as interim chief.

"Chief Kneblick has been a positive influence in every way for the Fort Worth Police Department," he said.

Halstead’s current assignment involves overseeing security at events in downtown Phoenix, which includes pro basketball and baseball stadiums, cultural events and downtown campuses of Arizona and Arizona State universities.

Halstead’s technical skills, competency and positive attitude are top-notch, said Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris.

“You guys got a winner,” Harris said. “Jeff is collaborative, he is a team-builder, he leads by example. He is exactly the kind of guy any agency in the country is trying to recruit.”

Staff writer Alex Branch contributed to this report.