Six candidates who want to be Fort Worth’s next police chief will be put through their paces this week in a very public final elimination process.
The itinerary for the six, whose names were released last week, includes a community forum Thursday where they are scheduled to answer questions submitted by local residents.
On paper, not much separates anyone from the pack — except that two are assistant chiefs already in the local department, both having served here for 23 years.
Fort Worth experience and established community relationships have to be a plus.
Those two are Kenneth Dean, who a city news release says is “responsible for maintaining and improving community relationships” for the department, and Abdul Pridgen, who has managed finance and personnel operations since January.
Neither has experience as chief of a big-city police force.
The most seasoned candidate is Anne Kirkpatrick, who retired last year after two years as chief deputy sheriff in King County (Seattle), Wash. Before that, she had served five years as police chief in Spokane, Wash., (population 211,000, compared to Fort Worth’s 793,000) before retiring from that job.
Another candidate, Joel Fitzgerald, is chief in Allentown, Pa. (population 119,000). He formerly was chief in Missouri City, (population 70,000) and served in the Philadelphia Police Department for 17 years.
The other two candidates are Jose Banales, assistant chief in San Antonio since 2010 and on the force there for 32 years, and Kirk Munden, who retired last year as executive assistant chief in Houston.
Public forum 7-9 p.m. Thursday Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex 505 W. Felix St.
It is a little discouraging that some of these candidates have already retired from at least one department. It’s not unusual in police work for someone to take retirement earned in one place and move on to more service in another.
Still, Fort Worth is not in the market for a job-hopper. We want a chief who is a community leader.
All of the candidates have an opportunity to show Fort Worth what they can do.
The job should go to the one who in the end clearly stands out in terms of ability to manage all aspects of the chief’s job, including the internal and community crises that seem to be inseparable from it.