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Fort Worth's First Police Monitor Says Communication, Dialogue is Needed to Improve Relations

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Fort Worth’s new police oversight monitor has only been with the city for about three months, but she’s already been at work.

In January, Kim Neal was named as the city of Fort Worth’s police monitor and began her role in March.

“What we do is we actively follow a complaint to a point of intake into the police department through an investigation until the final conclusion and findings,” Neal told NBC 5 on Wednesday. “If we note any issues with the investigations process, if we note any issues that we might see where the policies and procedures of the police department might need to be tweaked a little bit better then we can actually point that out throughout that process.”

Neal said the past three months have been met with challenges, particularly related to the coronavirus pandemic. However, she said she has been able to reach out to several stakeholders in Fort Worth. She’s also been able to speak with Fort Worth police chief Ed Kraus, as well as staff, and research their policies and procedures.

The police department has been open during this process, Neal said.

“That’s a good thing because I can tell you, having worked with other police departments – that’s not always the case,” she said.

Before working in Fort Worth, Neal served as executive director for the Citizens Complaint Authority in Cincinnati. In that role, she oversaw the investigations of serious misconduct allegations by Cincinnati police officers, according to a city-issued news release. This included, but was not limited to, deaths in custody, uses of force and improper procedures with the ultimate goal of addressing residents’ concerns and improving residents’ perceptions of the Cincinnati Police Department.

Most recently, the death of George Floyd has sparked national outrage and protests across several cities in the country. This includes the city of Fort Worth, with hundreds of protesting marching through downtown for the sixth day in a row on Wednesday.

Mayor Betsy Price joined the crowd at the beginning of the protest and said she was there to listen.

“I mean, we’re all mourning. We’re all hurt by the death of George Floyd. I wanted to come let them know we care,” Mayor Price said.

Neal said one of the biggest takeaways so far is the need for more honest and clear dialogue.

“If we could have more engagement where we have police and community at the table learning about other each other, learning about the differences, learning about this whole concept of diversity and how different cultures and ethnicities look at things, then I think we can improve on our community relations,” she said.

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