Fort Worth is considering six finalists for its new police chief. The position, open since Jeff Halstead’s January departure, will require a candidate who is dynamic enough to face outstanding controversies, including a traffic ticket scandal and racial tensions within the department. The new chief will also need to contend with the challenges facing police departments across the country, including poor community relations resulting from several officer-related deaths and retaliatory acts by civilians. The six candidates have varied backgrounds and experience. What sort of professional and personal background would make you comfortable with the city’s selection?
Am I comfortable? No.
The new Fort Worth police chief must be effective in the community as well as with the department’s internal management.
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But he must shun and be protected from political correctness in order to be fully honest and credible with both.
To accomplish these two crucial chores, the chief must be independent of conflicting agendas.
That is, he should first seek and be protected by civil service rules from being fired unless found guilty of specific and openly proven misconduct.
The chief must have an experienced answer to the core question: How can a police department effectively, efficiently and directly confront the significant depth of crime and lawbreakers in the community without raising the specter of protest or riot by their friends, family and supporters, no matter how lawfully and necessarily accomplished?
That is, does the new chief believe that he should be charged with gaining the “trust” of the criminally inclined? Does the new chief honestly believe that has worked anywhere?
— Richard M. Holbrook, Weatherford
Public trust is the cornerstone of effective policing.
Citizens must trust that officers will enforce the law in an equitable fashion, without regard to race or other non-relevant factors.
Residents must also trust that those who enforce the law shall first be accountable to obey it. Policing and the nurturing of public trust goes beyond simply enforcing the law justly and includes communication with those served by the department, fostering an open dialogue with neighborhood leaders and supporting residents’ involvement at the most local level.
Foremost, however, the chief must understand policing in Fort Worth, where the valuable Citizens on Patrol program and neighborhood connections were neglected for the past seven years.
The next chief’s background should include experience in a department with a strong focus on local residents, a history of effective communication, both within and without the department structure, and an appreciation for the transparent world in which we live.
— Pat Kneblick, Fort Worth
I read somewhere that if you use the following 12 “laws,” people will respect you and you will respect yourself.
To the future Fort Worth police chief I ask, “Are you trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent?”
— Robert J. Abbatello,
Simply put but most important: Is he being honest, fair and square to all and have the ability to take criticism that surely he will receive from some people!
— George J. Anthony,
All Points each Monday features reader responses to a question posed by the Editorial Board. With each week’s responses comes the next week’s question. All Points responses are not counted toward the monthly limit of one letter to the editor from each writer. Readers are welcome to send their own ideas for All Points topics to Editorial Director Mike Norman, firstname.lastname@example.org.