Federal Bureau of Investigation

Former FWPD Chief's Attorney Calls Firing Retaliation, Accuses City of Destroying Evidence

The city of Fort Worth fired Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald Monday

Former Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald is coming out swinging after being fired on Monday. His attorney says the firing is retaliation for his blowing the whistle on cybersecurity problems in the city's IT department.

Then on Tuesday, the attorney, Stephen Kennedy, filed an affidavit that accused the city of destroying evidence.

After a public firing, Fitzgerald's attorney painted a very different picture of what he said went on behind the scenes.

"He had a target on his back and the city was looking for a reason to get rid of him," Kennedy said.

Kennedy claimed it went back to an internal memo Fitzgerald sent in December, warning that the city was violating federal regulations on how to access a critical FBI database.

"That includes people's fingerprints, their DNA, police reports, etc.," Kennedy said. "If you are not in compliance with those regulations, you can lose access to that very important data."

In the memo, Fitzgerald said the city wasn't using the required encryption technology.

"Hackers could have gotten into the database," Kennedy said.

And that city employees with criminal records were being allowed to access it.

"The city has had several felons and people with misdemeanors, who are either permanently or temporarily banned from seeing the information, have access to it, even to this day," Kennedy said. "And so the city has fabricated its compliance with that specific federal regulation."

Kennedy filed a new affidavit Tuesday from an IT employee who's accusing the city of destroying evidence by deleting city workers' instant messages regarding the whistle blower complaints from Fitzgerald and two IT workers.

"The city wants to cover up all of the information that it possibly can," Kennedy said.

The city denied destroying evidence.

"It is our belief that the City has complied with putting an appropriate legal hold on all pertinent records and the allegations are untrue," Assistant City Manager Susan Alanis said.

The head of IT told city council Tuesday the cybersecurity his department put in place had prevented hundreds of thousands of hacks in just the past few months.

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