A day after announcing Joel Fitzgerald as Fort Worth's new police chief, city manager David Cooke called him a “fresh face” who stood out among a strong group of finalists, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Fitzgerald, who is poised to become Fort Worth's first African-American police chief, was Cooke's selection after a nine-month search. The Allentown, Pa., chief will replace Jeffrey Halstead, who stepped down in January to start his own consulting business. “My thinking was, do you bring up an insider, or do you bring in an outsider and see how they can put their stamp on the department?” Cooke said. “I chose the outsider who can bring a fresh perspective.”
He was chosen over five other finalists, two of whom are current Fort Worth assistant chiefs with more than 20 years of experience in the department. The council is expected to approve Fitzgerald on Tuesday, and he'll begin work in Fort Worth Oct. 19. While Fitzgerald's experience has been at smaller departments — Allentown has around 200 officers, while Fort Worth has more than 1,500 — he started his career with the Philadelphia Police Department in 1992. Mayor Betsy Price said, “I like the fact that he's had a broad range of experience. He's got an extensive background in community policing.” Fitzgerald emphasized community policing in an interview Wednesday. In Allentown, he established a youth police academy and put officers on bicycles in neighborhoods.