Relationships between diverse communities and police have been at a breaking point in the U.S. for decades, yet only half of the Fort Worth police chief finalists wrote about those issues in detail when they applied for the city’s top police job.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram received all six candidate cover letters through an open records request. The candidates wrote about their accomplishments within their departments and how they rose through the ranks. One bragged about incidents in his department that should’ve dominated headlines but didn’t because he controlled the message.
Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke named the six finalists on Dec. 9 after Chief Ed Kraus announced his intentions to retire.
The city plans to form interview panels featuring city and police officials as well as residents, Deputy City Manager Jay Chapa said. A public forum is scheduled for Jan. 14 at the Fort Worth Convention Center.
A single finalist will be named in late January, Chapa said.
Some residents who the Star-Telegram spoke with in December said they’re looking for someone who will take a stronger preventative approach to crime, and who will build trust with the city’s diverse communities, because trust has never been there.
CHRISTOPHER C. JONES
Christopher C. Jones, an assistant sheriff at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, wrote that he embraced community policing and continues “to advocate for a healthy partnership between police and the community we serve.”
Jones has been in law enforcement for 27 years and wrote that police leaders must understand the need for substantive change in police and criminal justice reform.
“Over the years, I have been part of my agency’s efforts to change how we interact with our diverse communities,” he wrote. He explained that he helped work toward criminal justice reform in the courts and detention facilities, but didn’t go into detail about what that work looked like or its effects.
“I am a firm believer in transparency and that change does not simply come from solid policies, but instead it must involve true cultural transformation in order to meet the reforms that communities across our country are demanding,” he wrote.
DERICK D. MILLER
Fort Worth native Derick D. Miller became the Carrollton Police Chief in 2017. He’s the only Black candidate and began his career in law enforcement in the early 1990s.
“Growing up on the west side, I always assumed I’d be a Fort Worth Police Officer someday,” he wrote. “I first realized my innate distaste for injustice as a student at Monnig Middle School.”
Miller said during his time as chief, his department faced “several incidents” that should have dominated news headlines but didn’t.
“I am proud of how my team came together to conduct thorough investigations, care for our officers and our community, and carefully control the message through transparency, effective media relations, a robust social media presence, and carefully cultivated relationships already established with key community groups,” he wrote.
Miller didn’t say what the incidents were or explain if or why they were kept from the public eye.
He didn’t write about relationships between himself, his officers and those living in Carrollton other than writing that he would bring Fort Worth “a keen understanding of how to build and maintain community trust through proactive, intentional community engagement.”
In 2019, Julie Swearingin became the Fort Worth Police Department’s highest ranking Latina in history. She wrote mostly about how she believes in earning and holding respect of people in Fort Worth.
“During my career, I have always focused on two objectives: keeping people safe and getting the job done,” she wrote. “These two objectives have always been priorities above all else and I learned early in my career that achieving these objectives is dependent upon the relationships we build with our community as well as our employees.”
Swearingin wrote that pursuing milestones in the department by advancing up the ranks were all opportunities to show women, especially young minority women in Fort Worth, that they should pursue their dreams. She is and has been involved in more than a dozen groups in the city that work to help young women and people of color.
“I truly believe I am uniquely qualified for this position because of my life experience and the hard work and obstacles I had to overcome to achieve where I am today,” she wrote. “My number one strength is my ability to connect with people from all groups.”
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Fort Worth Star-Telegram – NICOLE MANNA