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Friday, January 15, 2021

Council Report: Search for new police chief taking shape

The search for a new police chief for the City of Fort Worth is taking shape.

Plans are for a nationwide search, with expectations to have a new chief selected early in 2021. City officials have selected Strategic Government Resources of Keller to conduct the search. The city expects to pay about $25,000 for the search.

“Ron Holifield is the head of [Strategic Government Resources] and they’ve got a lot of experience in doing searches for police chiefs,” Deputy City Manager Jay Chapa told the Fort Worth City Council, during a work session briefing on Tuesday, Sept. 1. “They have some pretty good experience just in the last six, seven months of dealing with the COVID issues and having to go through virtual processes and the like. That was one of the reasons we selected them along with all the history and the deep connections they have in that area.”

Current Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus, a 28-year veteran of the department, notified the city in July that he wanted to retire at the end of the year. Kraus took over the department in May of 2019 after Joel Fitzgerald was fired. Kraus has said he will remain with the city until a replacement is in place. Kraus’ current salary is $224,685.

Chapa’s timeline calls for development of a preferred candidate position profile over the next 30 days. That profile will be developed via interviews to gain feedback from key stakeholders, including elected officials, command staff, the community, the Police Officers Association, key city staff and others. The city also will conduct online surveys of police staff and the community at large

Chapa said that data will help determine “what the ideal candidate traits should be and what we’re looking for and the type of experience that we’re looking for.”

“That will all be put together and added into the brochure and the police position profile that will be put out to request applications, but they’ll also be proactive in actually reaching out across the country and locally to find the best candidates possible,” he said.

The city will gather applications through late October or early November and then begin choosing top candidates.

Chapa said the candidates will be divided into three categories. The candidates will be “put into three pools of like A, which is a very strong contender; B, which would be strong contenders, but maybe are lacking in one or two things; and then the Cs to folks that we wouldn’t necessarily contemplate.”

The candidates will then be brought to the city manager and to Chapa and a small team will begin reviewing the candidates to settle on a list of semifinalists.

“[B]y mid-December to late December we would like to get to a group of strong candidates so that … actually in January we would be able to bring in candidates to have interviews and the interviews would include multiple panels and also have the opportunity to have some public engagement,” he said.

The plan is to get a lot of feedback and information from the community through the process, Chapa said.

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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