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Government Council Report: Independent oversight program part of Race and Culture Task Force...

Council Report: Independent oversight program part of Race and Culture Task Force plan

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At its Tuesday, March 5 work session, the Fort Worth City Council heard a report on implementation plans resulting from the Race and Culture Task Force.

City Manager David Cooke presented the implementation plan. Among the recommendations, were to create an independent oversight program within the police department.

One Dec. 11, the council accepted a task force’s final report and asked Cooke to, within 90 days, provide them with a plan for implementing all feasible recommendations.

Cooke reported 22 recommended strategies to reduce racial and cultural disparities in criminal justice, economic development, education, governance, health, housing, and transportation.

Cooke reiterated the vision of the task force that “Fort Worth will be a city that is inclusive, equitable, respectful, communal, and compassionate.”

Here are highlights of the plan:

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

*Create an independent oversight program within the police department after reviewing national best practices, research other Texas cities with independent oversight programs (Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio), create a citizens review board of nine members recommended by Cooke and approved by the city council, establish a police monitor outside the department that reports to Cooke.

*Police cadet program.

*Increase diversity in the police department.

“The idea of independent oversight is not unique. In fact, it is more common in major cities than it is not,” Cooke said.

The citizens review board would meet quarterly, as needed.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

*Enable more minority residents to secure suitable employment.

*More education and incentives to achieve wage parity.

*Expand the capacity of minority-owned businesses.

EDUCATION

*Early childhood intervention via quality childcare.

*Improve college readiness among African-American and Hispanic high school graduates.

GOVERNANCE

*Create districts that provide the best opportunities to reflect the city’s diverse population (in time for the 2023 election).

*More diversity training.

HEALTH

*Increase resident awareness.

*Increase active lifestyles.

*Provide more healthy foods.

*Increase access to healthcare providers.

HOUSING

*Create more affordable housing incentives.

*Home buyer assistance.

*Increase resident awareness of resources.

TRANSPORTATION

*Transportation equity policy/five-year plan.

*Transportation funding criteria.

*After-action reviews of pedestrian/bicycle crashes.

The task force was formed in 2017 following the controversial arrest of Jacqueline Craig as well as several other incidents.

During the State of the City address in February, Mayor Betsy Price said: “The Race and Culture Task Force … really peeled that Band-Aid back and took a hard look at Fort Worth. There were some tough conversations on what needed to change in Fort Worth and what had been impacted. Is it a perfect report? Probably not.”

But it is a good start, she said. “The city will have to hire someone who’s an equity officer, who is charged with implementing this plan,” she said. “We’re looking at everything we do at the city through an equity lens, and it’s data driven. If we take a hard look at the data that we have and move that forward based on data and equity, it’ll stay on the front burner.” She also said the city would be leveraging private dollars through area foundations to implement some of these changes.

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