Fort Worth

Fort Worth City Council Hears Plan for Independent Police Oversight

The recommendations mirror those of the city's Task Force on Race and Culture

Fort Worth's city manager on Tuesday recommended that the city council approve a full-time police monitor and a nine-member citizens' review board to deal with allegations of police misconduct.

"So let's jump in," city manager David Cooke told the council as he outlined his suggestions. "There is independent oversight of the police department in almost all major cities."

The recommendations mirror those of the city's Task Force on Race and Culture, which was formed to address community concerns after the controversial arrest of a Fort Worth mother, Jacqueline Craig, more than two years ago.

Craig called police to report a neighbor had assaulted her young son. Video of the incident went viral when officer William Martin arrested Craig and threw her to the ground. Martin was later suspended for 10 days.

Some city leaders complained the oversight plan lacked details.

"I want some specifics," city council member Kelly Allen Gray said.

Mayor Betsy Price and other council members seemed to generally back the plan, even as it was unclear exactly what form it would take.

"The devil is in the details on how we deliver," Price said.

The citizens' board wouldn't have subpoena power or be allowed to investigate complaints itself.

City officials said state law doesn't allow that.

"So they're more review and advisory in nature," Cooke acknowledged.

Whatever form the oversight takes, Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald seems to welcome it.

"I'm confident we're doing things the right way and I don't see it as, you know, somebody looking over my shoulder," he said.

But the president of the police officers association, Sgt. Manny Ramirez, argued the department is already doing a good job policing itself.

"I think just adding one more piece to that system might just cause more problems than it fixes," he said.

The final decision is up to the city council. No votes are scheduled.

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