Fort Worth fires its controversial police chief

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Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke announced Monday he had fired the city’s police chief, Joel Fitzgerald, following a series of controversies in recent months.

“As the city manager for the City of Fort Worth, it is my responsibility to make decisions and recommendations in the best interest of this community,” Cooke said Monday during a press conference, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Executive Assistant Chief Edwin Kraus was named interim chief.

Fitzgerald told the newspaper that he had not received advance warning of the firing. His attorney Stephen Kennedy said he would seek an administrative appeal.

Kennedy said that Fitzgerald had scheduled a meeting with the FBI to report city violations of the Criminal Justice Information Systems Act and described the timing of the firing as suspicious.

The Texas Department of Public Safety had previously determined in an audit that Fort Worth had violated the CJISA. Assistant city manager Jay Chapa previously told the Star-Telegram that the issues deal with the city trying to streamline its information technology department.

Fitzgerald claimed he received “negatively worded” performance evaluations days after he told city officials about the audit findings. He drafted a letter in late 2018 accusing his supervisors of racial discrimination but never sent it to his bosses, the newspaper reported.

The former police chief’s firing comes weeks after he was kicked out of the state police union because he is not a member of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association as required. Fitzgerald also got into a heated argument with Sgt. Todd Harrison, president of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, in Washington, D.C., just days after he was booted from the union.

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