Fort Worth Race & Culture Task Force Presents Final Recommendations to City Council

Fort Worth is moving closer to creating a civilian review board which would oversee complaints leveled against police officers.

The review board is one of the recommendations brought forward by the city’s Race and Culture Task Force.

The task force held several community meetings in the past year and a half before it compiled a long list of recommendations on a broad range of race-related issues Fort Worth residents face.

Members of the task force formally presented a list of recommendations to city council members during a work session Tuesday afternoon.

The civilian committee would meet with police command staff on a regular basis, receive information about ongoing investigations related to complaints leveled against officers and would be able to provide feedback.

However, the civilian review board's powers would be limited.

According to the task force recommendations, the review board would not be able to discipline officers, would not be able to require officers to testify and would not be able to overturn Fort Worth Police Department decisions.

The president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association was present at the meeting where task force members presented their findings and recommendations to council members.

President Manny Ramirez said the department had seen great progress when it came to community relations in the past several years.

"I don't think that the civilian oversight impedes progress whatsoever," Ramirez said. "I think that it allows civilians to have a voice in the process, but it is how that board is formed, or how that body is made up. Because you obviously don't want anybody with nefarious agendas to get influence over a civilian process."

Task force co-chair Bob Ray Sanders told NBC 5 earlier Tuesday he had received word of some push-back to the recommendations when it came to the civilian review board.

"We've already gotten word from some members of city council that might be dead on arrival," Sanders said. "The Fort Worth Police Officers Association certainly doesn't like the idea of a civilian review board so we know that they're going to resist. But hey, many cities are doing this and there are many models and that's why we're asking the city manager to take a look at this."

The task force announced it wanted the Fort Worth city manager to be the person who determined, by next March, what recommendations to implement, how many members the committee should have and who should appoint the civilian board members.

Some members of the city council commended task force members for their work over the past year and a half.

City council member Kelly Allen Gray stated some people in the community would likely come forward and say the recommendations do not go far enough, but Gray said "it’s a great start."

The task force was formed at the suggestions of Mayor Betsy Price and other city leaders in the wake of protests following the controversial and widely-publicized arrest of Jaqueline Craig in December 2016.

The city council is expected to vote on the Race and Culture Task Force recommendations at its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

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