City officials were on hand Tuesday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Fort Worth Police Department’s north division headquarters.
The 23,000-square-foot facility was built to better serve residents and businesses north of Loop 820 by speeding up response times and increasing the police presence in the area.
Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald hailed the building as the department's future operations center for far north Fort Worth. He stopped short of saying that residents will immediately see reduced response times but added that they can expect a high-quality response.
"There should be better response times, but we don't want to focus solely on that. What we look at is the quality at which we provide service," said Fitzgerald. "So if an officer takes a little longer, I'd rather an officer take a little longer solving a problem and then move on to the next than to rush and problems reoccur. Do they try to move from call to call? They do. But I ask them to slow it down, solve the problem and move to the next. They've done a good job in the north with that."
The new building at 8755 N. Riverside Drive aims to enhance community partnerships by serving as a command center for new and active Citizens on Patrol members, providing community meeting space and improving accessibility to police staff.
The facility will be home to 110 officers and 13 administrative staff. Fitzgerald noted that those numbers are a far cry from the early 2000s, when two officers were assigned to the entire area.
"We've been very fortunate over the last year or two to overhire," said Fitzgerald. "And we're looking at how much we really need to accommodate this urban sprawl that's going on in the city. With the exponential rate that the population and businesses are growing, we are going to have to take a hard look at how we're deploying our resources."
To promote more employee interaction, the building's interior has more open space and fewer doors, said Cmdr. Neil Noakes, who will run the north division.
"That way people are forced to see each other because it fosters that communication between our detectives, our patrol officers and our neighborhood police officers," said Noakes.
The new building also has a community meeting room and a small library.
"If a child or an adult wants to read a book, they can come in," said Noakes. "If they don't want to read the book inside, they can take it with them. It's a way to bring families in so they can connect with their officers."