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The Six Finalists For Fort Worth Police Chief, In Their Own Words

The Fort Worth Police insignia patch on a police officer's shoulder. The insignia is a star with "Fort Worth Texas Police" stitched behind it.
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Fort Worth is looking for a new police chief, and the public has a chance to hear from the six finalists.

On Thursday, the candidates will participate in a forum at the Fort Worth Convention Center, where they will answer pre-submitted questions from the public. The event starts at 6:30 p.m., and will also be livestreamed.

The current chief, Ed Kraus, announced his retirement in July. He started as acting chief in 2019, following the firing of his predecessor, Joel Fitzgerald.

Much of Kraus' tenure has been defined by the killing of Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old Black woman — as well as his department’s response to this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.

The city provided KERA with each candidate’s resume and cover letter, which they submitted as part of their job applications. Here’s more about their backgrounds, and what each one has to say about why they want to lead the city’s police department.

Julie A. Swearingin

Julie Swearingin
Julie Swearingin

Swearingin is one of two internal candidates for the job. She’s worked in the Fort Worth Police Department since 1995 and is one of three assistant chiefs to Kraus.

She wrote in her cover letter that she would like to continue Kraus’ efforts to strengthen relationships with the community.

“I believe we can enhance public trust; I believe we can continue to be more transparent and accountable," she wrote, adding that she would also like to grow community policing efforts.

She wrote that she was the first Hispanic woman to achieve the rank of lieutenant, and then continued to break that barrier in subsequent ranks.

One of Swearingin’s earliest assignments was serving as a school resource officer, according to her resume. She has worked in a wide variety of assignments since then, including overseeing SWAT and the Special Victims Section, which included crimes such as domestic violence and human trafficking.

See Swearingin's cover letter and résumé.

Neil Noakes

Neil Noakes
Neil Noakes

Neil Noakes is a deputy chief in the Fort Worth Police Department. His cover letter focuses on the “unfortunate erosion of public trust” in police and what the department can do about it.

“Officers must be inspired to reject the notion that societal issues are not our problem. We have a duty to address the generational neglect that has occurred in underserved communities and become part of the solution,” he wrote.

His other focus will be on restoring officer morale, he wrote, which “has deteriorated to new lows nationally.”

This is Noakes’ 21st year with the department, his resume states. He started as an officer in the North Patrol Division and later became that division’s commander, before his promotion to deputy chief in 2019.

He also helped to establish VIP FW, a program that works with former gang members to prevent gang violence.

See Noakes' cover letter and résumé.

Wendy Baimbridge

Wendy Baimbridge
Wendy Baimbridge

Baimbridge is an assistant chief in the Houston Police Department. Her listed priorities include increasing transparency.

“Law enforcement must create opportunities to meet with our public regularly and utilize every encounter for relational policing to understand their concerns and work together for a safe environment to live and work,” she wrote. “Our public deserves no less.”

Baimbridge’s resume states that she created the department’s Mental Health Division and has worked to reduce police interaction with people in mental health crises. Kraus has similar priorities in Fort Worth.

She also led the department’s response to Hurricane Harvey and managed security at COVID-19 testing sites.

See Baimbridge's cover letter and résumé.

Troy Gay

Troy Gay
Troy Gay

Troy Gay is an assistant chief of police in the Austin Police Department, who wrote in his cover letter that he wants to build unity and respect between the community and law enforcement.

“I envision leading a progressive department by being involved in all aspects of the department from patrol activities to setting policy in order to provide guidance and maintain morale,” he wrote.

According to his resume, Gay has served in law enforcement for more than 30 years. His current responsibilities include overseeing the APD’s day-to-day operations.

In October, he was also a finalist for the chief of police position in Nashville, according to local news reports.

In 2019 and 2020, KUT reported on Gay while he was at the center of a third-party investigation into bigotry in the APD. A complaint accused him of putting his child through conversion therapy, a discredited and harmful practice used in an effort to change a person’s sexual orientation. The investigation could not confirm the allegations, KUT reported.

See Gay's cover letter and résumé.

Derick D. Miller

Derick Miller
Derick Miller

Miller is the current police chief of Carrollton. In his cover letter, he said he loves his current job, but Fort Worth is his hometown, and he wants to lead here.

“To Fort Worth, I would bring established working relationships in the North Texas Law Enforcement Community,” he wrote.

He also touted his ability to “control the message” through media relations and social media management.

“Several critical incidents during my tenure had potential to dominate news headlines but did not,” he wrote.

He elaborated in his resume, saying he led the response to three police killings. None of the officers involved were indicted, he wrote, “and good media relations resulted in minimal and fair news coverage.”

Miller has spent his entire law enforcement career with the Carrollton Police Department, starting as a reserve officer in 1992. He is also an adjunct professor in the criminal justice department at UT Arlington, his alma mater, according to his resume.

See Miller's cover letter and résumé.

Christopher C. Jones

Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones

Jones, the only candidate from outside Texas, is an assistant sheriff in the Las Vegas Municipal Police Department. In his cover letter, he said he is focused on changing how police interact with the community, for the better.

“With the national narrative focused on police and criminal justice reform, today’s police leaders must understand the need for substantive change,” he wrote.

According to his resume, Jones has worked in law enforcement for almost 30 years. In his current role as assistant sheriff in the LVMPD, he oversees the professional standards division, which includes training, internal affairs, employment and diversity. He is also the chairman of the Use of Force and Tactical Review Board, which evaluates police killings.

His resume states that during his time as deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, he “commanded tactical and intelligence teams” during the Las Vegas shooting, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

See Jones' cover letter and résumé.

Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at msuarez@kera.org. You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

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