Chief of Police Joel Fitzgerald is leaving his position with Missouri City for the same title in his hometown of Allentown, Pa. Fitzgerald, a former Philadelphia police officer for 18 years, is expected to start his new position Dec. 20.
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski nominated Fitzgerald for the chief position Nov. 11, and Allentown City Council approved the nomination unanimously later that month.
"The Missouri City police department displays a willingness everyday to represent each and every person in the community, and it will continue to do so," Fitzgerald said. "I feel good about that, because I have good people."
Missouri City City Council recognized Fitzgerald's service to the city at its Dec. 2 meeting. Residents and public officials from Fort Bend County, Stafford, Sugar Land and the state of Texas were in attendance to speak on Fitzgerald's accomplishments during his nearly five years of service as Missouri City's chief of police.
Fort Bend County's District Attorney John Healey commended Fitzgerald for his strong communication skills and his initiatives that have benefited the city and its residents.
"I don't have to tell you what a fantastic chief we are losing," he said. "[Joel Fitzgerald] has instilled the important concept of active, vivid communication within his troops, and it has really spilled out over. It suggests that there is a great relationship between MoCity and all the law enforcement agencies in Fort Bend County."
From involving residents through a community street team to reorganizing the police department to helping create a chaplaincy program within the department, Fitzgerald has made a difference in Missouri City along with its neighboring communities, city manager Ed Broussard said.
"[Joel Fitzgerald] is also the one who helped organize the first of ongoing monthly criminal investigation division meetings, bringing different groups together—Fort Bend County and other agencies in the area—to share information," he said. "That's one thing that he brought in and helped promote—we have to work together."
Fitzgerald holds a doctorate in business administration and was awarded the NAACP President's Award in 2010 for his community policing work. Among other recognitions, the Texas House of Representatives has honored Fitzgerald for his exceptional service in Missouri City.
"We are really going to miss him," said state Rep. Ron Reynolds. "We have made significant strides in becoming an even safer city."
Assistant chief of police Mike Berezin, who began his law enforcement career with Missouri City in 1989, will step in as interim chief of police following Fitzgerald's departure. Berezin has held several positions with the Missouri City Police Department and was promoted to assistant chief in 2011.