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Fort Worth Targets Assembly Date for 3rd-Party Panel to Review City Police Practices and Policies

Fort Worth's city manager says an outside panel reviewing the city's policing practices and policies could be assembled by Nov. 19.

The independent group would consist of national experts, according to Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke.

Cooke's comments come as citizens again packed the city council meeting demanding systemic change.

Discussion of the panel stems from the Race and Culture Task Force, which presented more than 20 recommendations to the city council in Dec. 2018. The task force, consisting of 23 members, was formed in 2017.

Cooke said the premise of the panel is to build trust in the community and review training procedures. There has been an overwhelming response of interest in the panel since the deadly officer-involved shooting on Oct. 12, when police say 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson was shot in her home by now-former officer Aaron Dean.

"We've heard people from that Saturday morning, so we are listening. We're trying to react and act as responsibly as we can and if there's things we need to learn, things we need to differently -- we're going to put those in place," Cooke said.

The city is also recruiting for the position of an independent police monitor, another recommendation from the panel. Interviews will be conducted in the third week of November.

At Tuesday night's meeting, citizen after citizen gave council members an earful.

In one emotional moment, Jefferson's neighbor, James Smith, who called police to report an open door at her home spoke out.

"City council members, your city is smoldering, smoldering, smoldering," Smith said. "I'm sure you smell the smoke. We're here again to ask you what you are going to do about it. It's likened to me calling a non emergency number and getting what I got and not what I asked for. I haven't slept. I've barely eaten. But I'm determined to be a voice for Atiana Jefferson."

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