After a series of heated comments from the public, Fort Worth City Council unanimously approved a resolution Nov. 19 to create a panel of national experts to review the city’s police department.
Mayor Betsy Price called for this internal audit shortly after an officer was involved in a shooting in October.
On Oct. 12, former Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson when responding to a call around 2:25 a.m., according to a same-day news release from the Fort Worth Police Department. Dean resigned before Police Chief Ed Kraus could terminate his employment, Kraus said at an Oct. 14 press conference. Dean has since been arrested and charged with murder.
Price, then, had tasked City Manager David Cooke with forming a committee to conduct a “top to bottom” review of the police department in an official statement.
With the approval of this resolution, such a committee was created.
The selected panel of experts was announced with a Nov. 8 city news release. The team will be led by consulting experts Theron Bowman and Alex del Carmen, both of whom have police reform experience. Former and current actors in the fields of civil rights and law comprise the remainder of the team.
Part of the panel’s job will be identifying patterns and practices related to police interactions with the public during investigative stops, searches, arrests and use of force incidents. It also includes finding opportunities to improve trust and confidence in the police department, according to city documents.
However, some residents are unhappy with this resolution.
“This is a complete disconnect to our community," said one speaker during public comments. "You are hiring expects from outside of the city that have nothing to do with us. They do not know the neighborhoods, they do not know the civilians, they don’t live here ... This panel is not what we asked for.”
The panel of experts will begin work immediately, and its review process may take several months, according to the Nov. 8 news release. Regular reports and updates will be posted here.
City of Fort Worth hires panel of experts to review police department in light of recent officer-related civilian shooting
Fort Worth City Council approved a resolution instating a panel of expects to review the city's police department. (Courtesy city of Fort Worth)