The city of Fort Worth is in the final stretch for finding a new police chief.
Interviews for the final six candidates are about to be underway as the deadline approaches for residents to submit questions for an exclusive opportunity to meet the candidates in person next week.
The candidates include leaders out of Houston, Austin and Las Vegas police departments, as well as the chief of Carrollton PD and leaders from Fort Worth PD.
Those who are arriving from out of town will fly in next Wednesday evening.
Then the candidates have a full day on Thursday, Jan. 14 starting at 8 a.m., including tours, an interview panel with community stakeholders, and then the community forum at night.
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Next Friday Jan. 15, there will be an interview panel with the city manager's executive team and the city of Fort Worth’s department heads. In those meetings, the candidates have been asked to present what their first-year plan would look like.
"We're in a time of transition, I think policing overall is in a time of transition,” he said. “So we want someone that can bring people together. Someone that can not only make inroads with the community and build trust in the police department but also has to be able to get the trust of the officers."
Jay Chapa, the assistant city manager for Fort Worth, said his team will play a huge role in the final selection. He said they are looking for someone who is humble, genuine and has a servant's heart.
"Someone who will build that bridge so that the actual officers and community work together to solve the issues that we have when it comes to crime and other issues in the community," he said. "Really being a team player is going to be key, because one person is not going to solve the problems that we have...We’re not worried too much about the experience of policing itself, but how do they bring people together? How do they address issues? What kind of innovative ideas do they have that they’re willing to bring forward? It’s really their ability to connect with people is a key thing."
Fort Worth residents have a bit more time to submit questions for the community forum. The deadline was mistakenly posted for this week but it's actually Jan. 13th. Residents may submit comments for city management and questions for candidates by emailing email@example.com.
On Jan. 6, the city is expected to finalize COVID-19 protocols for the community forum, planned for 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 14 at the Fort Worth Convention Center ballroom.
Masks will be required. Chapa said they are most likely only going to allow 100 to 150 people to attend in a first-come, first-seated format.
"The reason we selected the ballroom is it’s pretty huge. There have been events there with 1,500 people. We're probably going to keep that number under 10 percent capacity so we'll basically have the huge room with chairs spread 10 to 15 feet apart from each other,” he said. “So if you come with a group, you will still have to sit separately.”
There will also be a stage large enough to keep the candidates and moderator separated.
The city's public events staff has been certified in safe cleaning practices, protocols of which will be implemented during the forum.
"They are going to take all of those precautions and put them into place making sure that all of the chairs have been cleaned and disinfected, and that everything that people touch is going into that process," Chapa said.
The city said a decision on a new chief will be made by the end of the month.