Ed Kraus has officially been named Fort Worth’s new police chief.
Kraus, who has been with the department for more than 26 years, was officially announced as the city's new top cop Thursday afternoon at Fort Worth City Hall.
"We've definitely had some challenges over the last six months, challenges I couldn't have gotten through without my faith, my family, and the support of the staff at the Fort Worth police department," Kraus said.
He said communication would be a top priority after a string of police shootings has strained race relations.
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"If I could snap my finger and change it, we'd be a very harmonious community," he said at a news conference. "You're not going to find that anywhere in the United States right now. I think we have a lot of work to do."
City Manager David Cooke said other candidates were not considered, nor was a nationwide search conducted, pointing to Kraus having done "more than step up" to the role over the last six months. The position was left vacant after former police chief Joel Fitzgerald was fired, as city leaders cited his "increasing lack of good judgment."
Fitzgerald has since filed a wrongful termination against city, claiming his firing was in retaliation for investigating city corruption.
In a statement, Fitzgerald's attorney Steven Kennedy said "The city has told the court that it will terminate whomever is in that position if a jury opts to reinstate Dr. Fitzgerald. I trust them at their word."
However, the city's pick of Kraus did not come without criticism.
Rev. Kyev Tatum said a national search should have been conducted.
"This is a large city. This is a big city. This is not your Mom and Pop 'Andy Griffin Mayberry' decision making where you know the guy. He's been a good guy, let him be sheriff," Tatum said.
Defending the city's decision, Bob Ray Sanders said a national search would have taken months and even more time for an outsider to understand and know the city. Sanders is a former co-chair of the Race and Culture Task Force in Fort Worth, which Kraus served as a liaison on.
"Fort Worth is not that hard to learn, but it is a big city. It is a complicated city, and right now it is a city in crisis," Sanders said. "I think what we need is someone who can come in already equipped to deal with the crisis and in fact, has been dealing with the crisis."
The 'crisis' is referring to racial tension and mistrust between certain communities and the police department, Sanders said.
Sanders said he supported Kraus, pointing to his work with the task force.
"We saw him listen, which is what he did most of," he said. "We also saw him learn and in the last six months since he’s been acting chief, actually put into action some of the things we think he learned including releasing video timely."
This includes body camera video from the early morning shooting of Atatiana Jefferson, who was shot and killed by a Fort Worth police officer in October. The video was released within hours after the shooting.
At the announcement Thursday, one of Jefferson's cousins Michael Sneed came to support Kraus. Sneed made it clear, he was only speaking for himself and not the entire family.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price released a statement supporting Kraus.
"I have always been impressed with Kraus’ professionalism, leadership, and rapport with the community, rank and file officers, and city management," Price said.
Kraus said he is pleased the crime rate is declining but added more officers need to be hired.
The city is planning three recruit classes next year, the first in January.