Police chief suggests adding six commander positions

Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald recommends adding six commander positions to the ranks, allowing the department to select officers who possess the leadership skills, intellect, experience and dedication to build and maintain relationships in the community.

Fitzgerald presented his reorganization recommendations to the City Council during a work session on Tuesday.

Under Fitzgerald’s plan, a commander would be assigned to each of the six police patrol divisions as the highest-ranking uniformed officer.

The Meet and Confer agreement signed by the Fort Worth Police Officers’ Association in June included the rank of commander. The agreement provides the chief the authority to add six appointed, exempt employees between the rank of captain and deputy chief.

The total annual cost to fund six commanders is $1.2 million. The Police Department has identified funding sources for the positions for the FY18 budget year.

Fitzgerald said that officers who hope to reach the commander rank must have a proven record of leadership and service to the department; respect for subordinates, superiors and peers; insightful judgment, strong communication skills, knowledge beyond book learning, continuous self-improvement, approachable demeanor, service before self, a strong commitment to improve the department; and the ability to work with a group to accomplish a goal.

The new positions will create promotional opportunities and will allow for better span of control, management oversight and accountability. These new positions will also allow leadership to have a concentrated focus on first line supervision and will provide better communication throughout the chain of command.

“Commanders allow me to base promotion decisions on performance in commands and my observations of their interactions with City Council and residents,” Chief Fitzgerald said. “I will expect higher performance from those appointed to these positions and of their patrol commands and these appointed positions ensure they continue to demonstrate leadership consistent with our unified mission.”

Police Department representatives have met with Police Officers Association (POA) representatives, and while the POA acknowledges the commander rank was a negotiated component of the meet and confer contract, and the chief has a right to create that rank, the association remains neutral to the idea. The POA neither actively supports nor opposes the creation of the commander rank.

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