Rebuilding trust means fair second chances


Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald announces discipline for police Officer William Martin at a news conference Monday.
Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald announces discipline for police Officer William Martin at a news conference Monday. rmallison@star-telegram.com

Second chances need to be dealt fairly to be effective.

Last month, Jacqueline Craig called police alleging that a neighbor had assaulted her son for littering.

Fort Worth police officer William Martin arrived on the scene and escalated the conflict.

In a viral video, Martin can be seen being dismissive of Craig’s allegations and aggressive toward Craig and her two teenage daughters.

That isn’t the police conduct we want. We want peace officers to officiate peace, not incite conflict.

“Officer Martin violated state and departmental rules and policies by using excessive force, being disrespectful, and failing to thoroughly investigate a criminal offense,” wrote Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald in a letter to the Fort Worth Civil Service Commission.

Fitzgerald has also said Martin’s remarks were rude. They weren’t just rude, they were provocative and uncaring.

Fortunately, the Fort Worth Police Department swiftly investigated the matter and prescribed punishment for Martin — suspension without pay for 10 days.

That seemed light, but it’s what Fitzgerald decided. And there was more.

After Martin serves his suspension, he will return to working the same neighborhood beat as before the incident.

It makes him sleep in the bed he made, and it hands him a second chance: a fitting opportunity to heal broken trust in the community that he serves.

Martin must be diligent about rebuilding that trust. It won’t be easy, but it’s something he can do.

Possible charges in the original alleged assault on Craig’s son and those based on Craig’s arrest with her two daughters were forwarded to the Tarrant County district attorney’s office to be presented to a grand jury.

Craig and her older daughter are charged with interference with public duties, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and failing to provide identification. The younger daughter was accused of interference with public duties.

On the path toward healing, charges against Craig and her family should be dropped.

A lot of wrong was shown on that video, and both parties involved should be allowed a second chance.

Two teenage girls shouldn’t have records because of this. The community must be allowed to heal.

The best outcome would be if there is no lasting damage from this unfortunate event.

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