Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus announced Monday he would retire at the end of the year or when the city names his replacement, he said in an email to officers and employees Monday.
Kraus, a 28-year veteran of the department, was hired as an officer in 1992 and rose through the ranks to become chief during a challenging time.
He was named interim chief in May 2019 after former Chief Joel Fitzgerald was fired. Kraus was named the permanent chief in December.
Kraus spoke of the department soon after he was named interim chief.
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"I know the men and women who serve, and they serve faithfully the citizens of Fort Worth and that's not going to change depending on who's in the chief's seat," he said.
The department shared the following part of his letter to officers and employees:
“I want to let you know that I have decided to retire from the FWPD. My wife has also decided to retire from her career in education, and we are ready to explore the next chapter in our lives. I have let the city leaders know that I will stay on through the end of the year or until they hire a new police chief. I feel so blessed to have served our community with you over the past 28 years. I will forever have fond memories of this department, our accomplishments, and especially the relationships shared. With change comes opportunity for improvement, and I have full confidence that you (our employees, volunteers, and leadership team), in partnership with our community, will guide our department forward. I am so grateful for all the encouragement and support from the department, the city and the community. Each week I send an email with compliments you receive from the community about your amazing service. Your servant hearts are regularly on display for others to see. I am proud of how much you care for those we serve. I am eager to see where you take our department and I will continue to pray for you daily. It has been my honor to work for you, ed."
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said Monday she was devastated to learn that Kraus planned to retire and said he's a wonderful man who will be really missed.
"Clearly, I'm devastated. I love Ed Kraus and I think he's one of the best chiefs that anybody has or has had. But, he's given us 28 years of service to the city and his wife is going to retire as principal. I think they're ready to move on and do other things and you've got to respect that for your employees," Price said.
Kraus guided the department's response to widespread protests this summer and drew both praise and criticism for dropping charges against people arrested solely for rioting.
He had been engaged with minority groups long before the protests.
"If I could snap my finger and change it, we'd be a very harmonious community," he said at a news conference in December. "You're not going to find that anywhere in the United States right now. I think we have a lot of work to do."
He acknowledged he made the decision to fire tear gas on protesters on the West 7th Street bridge when he said officers heard them talking about plans to loot nearby businesses.
Kraus had been chief for just a few months when former officer Aaron Dean shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson in her home after a neighbor called to report the front door was open. Dean was charged with murder.
Before he was named chief, Kraus served as the department's liaison to the Task Force on Race and Culture, which was formed after the controversial arrest of Jacqueline Craig in December 2016.
The task force recommendations led the city to hire an outside police monitor and a director of diversity and inclusion. Kraus had been working to ramp-up the program this year and Price said he's built a great foundation for the next chief of police.
"Ed has really done a lot of work the last few months, building a foundation with our police monitor team … he's left this department in a great spot for somebody to continue on," Price said. "I think he's brought up a really good executive team with him that will continue to support whoever the new chief is."
Price said in looking for Kraus' replacement she'll look for many of the same qualities he has, that of a servant's heart and being a stand-up man who values transparency, accountability and respect.
Fort Worth Police Officers Association President Manny Ramirez said he was surprised to learn of the chief's retirement, but added that being a chief of police is a very difficult job and one where it's nearly impossible to meet everyone's expectations.
Ramirez said Kraus was one of the best officers ever produced by the department and that whoever is hired to replace him will have some, "pretty big shoes to fill."
"We have so much respect for Chief Krause. He's given his heart and soul to this city and he's served our citizens for over 28 years," said FWPOA President Manny Ramirez. "He's done a tremendous job leading us through this last year. We wish the best for him and his family and will continue to pray for them."