Bud Kennedy

If Fort Worth police chief and Taser were too cozy, it’s our fault

Retired Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead, left, introduces retired Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher on Feb. 15 at a Taser International conference at California Highway Patrol headquarters in Sacramento, Calif. A review by The Associated Press showed that Taser is covering airfare and hotel stays for police chiefs who travel to speak at the company’s marketing conferences. It is also hiring some recently retired chiefs as consultants, sometimes months after their cities signed contracts with Taser.
Retired Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead, left, introduces retired Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher on Feb. 15 at a Taser International conference at California Highway Patrol headquarters in Sacramento, Calif. A review by The Associated Press showed that Taser is covering airfare and hotel stays for police chiefs who travel to speak at the company’s marketing conferences. It is also hiring some recently retired chiefs as consultants, sometimes months after their cities signed contracts with Taser. The Associated Press

What worries me is not that Jeff Halstead helped a vendor sell body cameras.

What worries me is that Fort Worth had no rules against it.

No city purpose was served last July, when the then-Fort Worth police chief and a guest took a $2,445 trip to Boston.

We didn’t pay. Arizona-based Taser International paid his way for a seminar.

This was only four months after our city bought $2.7 million in Taser Axon Flex body cameras to go with Taser stun guns.

On Jan. 9, Halstead retired, saying not long afterward that he hoped to be a Taser “consultant.”

That kind of revolving-door deal alone violates most ethics codes, and should in Fort Worth.

Even Tarrant County — once known for purchasing scandals and sweetheart deals — has a tougher rule.

“Employees will never solicit or accept money, loans, gifts, favors or anything of value from present or potential vendors,” the rule says, making a single exception for food up to $50 shared among staff.

In particular, Tarrant County prohibits an employee or family member from dealing with a vendor while arranging a job.

Our county calls that a conflict of interest.

Our city calls it something “we need to look at.”.

Mayor Betsy Price came from the county tax office. She knows what’s right.

A national Associated Press investigation of close ties between police chiefs and equipment vendors zeroed in on Halstead as an egregious example, taking trips at Taser’s expense and doing testimonials.

In 2010, Halstead’s second year here after 20 years in Phoenix, he was warned to stop promoting testosterone implants for officers after a TV testimonial that was arranged by a Scottdale, Ariz., company.

Maybe this is how some cities do business.

We need to make sure our next chief minds our business.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @BudKennedy

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