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New Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald Says He Can Handle A Big City

Joel Fitzgerald
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

In Fort Worth, Joel Fitzgerald is wrapping up his debut week as police chief. He’s the first African-American to hold the job, and says he's ready for what's ahead. 

Interview Highlights: Joel Fitzgerald...

…On taking over a bigger city:

I like to think that I’m uniquely positioned to handle a job like this. I worked in the city of Philadelphia for many years, and worked under a great variety of police commissioners and I have experience in a city larger than Fort Worth, experience in mid-size cities. All of that experience and education I picked up along the way goes into what makes me the police chief here and gives me the ability to lead this organization.

…On his top priority at this job:

I could give you a litany of examples, but the first is the planning process that has already been put in place. It’s making sure that the right people were included in focus groups and developing goals for the organization. Making sure the right people are responsible for being the goal champions and that progress is made by achieving those goals.

…On being the first African-American police chief in Fort Worth:

I think that’d be a burden for any police chief. The “Black Lives Matter” movement, we need to open discussions and we need to have open, honest communication about what we do and what our role is in the community. One of the things I said when I was first hired here is that I’m very inclusive, and I intend on listening to all stakeholders and making sure that they have a voice. It’s been my track record, quite frankly, everywhere that I’ve been to be someone that’s brought the community together with the police department to point them in the right direction. I feel it won’t be any different in Fort Worth, the community has really opened their arms up and embraced me so far.

…On growing up in Philadelphia and why he became a cop:

My god-brother is deputy commissioner Kevin Bethel, he’s third in command in the city of Philadelphia Police Department. He worked for my dad for many years in the cleaners. He was a sergeant in the police department when I was still in college and he convinced me to take the test for police officer in Philadelphia. I’ve never looked back since, I think he probably gave me the best career advice ever.

…On being a Philadelphia Eagles fan in Fort Worth:

The city of Fort Worth has invested in a great deal of diversity. I’m probably the only Eagles fan in the city of Fort Worth. So aside the fact that I’m the first black police chief, I’m probably the first they’ve had in city government here. And I bleed Eagles green and I’m proud of it.