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Will He Stay Or Go? Reports Say Fort Worth Police Chief Is Heading To Baltimore

Christopher Connelly
Joel Fitzgerald has been Fort Worth police chief since 2015.

Several media reports indicate Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald is reportedly stepping down to lead the Baltimore force. But Fort Worth police tell KERA that he has not accepted another job offer at this time. The Baltimore mayor's office told KERA that "the process is still underway and no decision has been made."

Earlier Friday, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price told KXAS-TV, NBC5: “It appears he has taken the police chief spot in Baltimore. He's done a good job in Ft. Worth and I wish him the best in this new position.”

Then Price’s press secretary, Laken Rapier, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “(Price) has seen a tweet that has been circulating from Baltimore. The mayor wishes (Fitzgerald) the best. Whatever happens, the mayor wishes him the best.”

The Baltimore Sun reports: “Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh said she is still vetting candidates for the city’s next police commissioner and would not confirm claims that she has chosen ... Fitzgerald.”

Fitzgerald joined the Fort Worth police as chief in 2015.

Soon after Fitzgerald arrived in North Texas, he talked about the role his police department would play: “Sometimes it’s more than being the occupying force. Sometimes it’s involving ourselves in the fabric of the community. ... And that’s one thing that I promise in my time here is that we engage the community members actively, that we listen. And we build an inclusive Fort Worth Police Department.”

In late 2016, a viral video of a white Fort Worth police officer forcefully arresting a black woman and her daughters in December put a spotlight on Fitzgerald. The officer was suspended for 10 days without pay. Fitzgerald said the suspension was "significant," and he asked the officer to go back into the community when the suspension ended "to repair relationships."

"We are not sanctioning bad behavior... People make mistakes. We have levels of mistakes that every police officer makes," Fitzgerald said in January 2017. "Some things deserve punishment; some do not. Some deserve termination and some do not."

KERA's Christopher Connelly contributed to this report.

Anthony Cave reports gun culture as part of a new national reporting collaborative called Guns & America.
Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.