Crime in Fort Worth: Releasing videos, department diversity
Part 5 of a series about crime in Fort Worth
FWBP: There are some rumors – no clear information – that some police officers are a little reluctant to get involved because of the social media climate for fear of dire consequences for them. Do you recognize any of this among our officers?
Noakes: I think officers are careful, they are very careful. Not that they weren’t before, but unfortunately it adds another layer of stress. Something else to think about. I hope this never causes an official to hesitate when he has to act.
When we have the time, we take the time to get things done and make sure they are done safely. Sometimes an officer needs to act immediately and make a decision in a split second. I just hope the narrative, the police that are out there, the fear that they will be crucified, and forgive me, the media, if something happens.
I hope that doesn’t make you hesitate. When I look at the amazing job civil servants do every day, if that’s a problem, it’s not something across the board that is keeping civil servants from doing a job because we talked a little earlier, the I. -35 incident. About the cold weather, the things the officers were dealing with.
Even if we told other people to stay home because it wasn’t safe, they still came to work, still came in like we asked them too, and still did the job.
FWBP: In a recent shooting that an officer was involved in, you quickly posted videos of the incident. What is your commitment to posting these videos?
Noakes: According to our policy, we want to do this within three days, no more than five days, but within three days is the goal. If we can do it sooner, we want to do it even sooner. Our main thing is that we don’t want to do anything to compromise the integrity of an investigation.
What we want to do is be transparent about what happened in the incident. We used to say there, “Well, our investigations are over, we will talk to you. No comment. “These investigations can take six months and that’s too long. Especially now with social media and we have armies of citizen journalists out there. Anyone with a phone is now a journalist and has their own narrative, sometimes their own agenda .God bless you, you are doing your best I think.
But the point is, if we don’t contribute to the narrative, the narrative will take on a life of its own and we will be engulfed in the narrative.
Good or bad, whatever the video shows, we have to get it out, we have to be transparent to the public and then we listen to what the public has to say about it. There has to be a two-way flow of information so that we can hear what concerns the public and maybe we can all find ways to do things better together.
FWBP: How are your relationships with the Fort Worth Police Officers Association these days?
Noakes: We’re fine. Manny Ramirez is the president. He and I talked about a few things two days ago. We will deal with some things often, we will not agree on everything, but no two people ever do this. Often times we find out where we agree and can compromise even when we disagree that we always agree to respectfully disagree, but keep coming back to the table on whatever issues we need .
We have the Police Officers Association. We have the Black Police Officers Association and a Latin Police Officers Association. I’m a member of all three, they’re all really good organizations, do some great things.
The POA has obviously been in force for a long time, the other two came a few years ago and had just elected a new leadership in the Black POA and went to one of their meetings, talked to them. Deputy City Administrator Jay Chapa came with me. Our Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Christina Burkes, was also there. We have great discussions with all associations. I think we all get along.
Regardless of whether we agree on every single point, which again no one does, we work really hard to maintain this relationship where we can respectfully discuss all issues.
FWBP: How is the diversity in the department usually?
Noakes: It’s not where we want it to be. We want it to better reflect the fellowship we serve. The good news is that we’re actually tracking to be able to do just that in the near future. Deputy Head Julie Swearingin recently launched an initiative called Be The Change. It’s not just about sending out flyers, not just sending things out on social media, but actually deliberately, very deliberately, getting in touch with people who are applying.
First, recruit them to apply and tell them why, “Be the change. Would you like to see a change in your neighborhood? Want to see a change in policing? The best way to do this is to join us. Be part of the change. “
Then she actually helps them. Maybe she needs help studying for the written exam. They may need help passing the physical exam. She will come in her spare time and help people train her to see what her physical assessment shortcomings may be. Make sure they are ready to pass this in order for them to be successful. It’s not just about recruiting and getting someone to sign up and take the test. Sometimes these people don’t show up to take it off. She makes sure that they sign up, that they show up, that they are prepared, does everything possible not only to get them in the door but also that they can walk out that door as a cop of the academy down the street.
We also changed some of our tests from the last test we did. Most of the tests were based on IQ only and you have to have a certain IQ, you have to have a certain level of intelligence to do the job. But what is really very important to the Fort Worth Police Department is the integrity of the people we hire. IQ is great, but what about EQ, that emotional intelligence? We need people who are not only smart enough to get the job done here, but also have their hearts in the right place to get the job done. The testing mechanism we have now weights the integrity side even more than the IQ side.
I think we’ll see more quality candidates. We have some amazing people in the Fort Worth Police Department right now doing great things every day they are out there. We want to involve the best people we can to add to what we already have and to make sure we have the leaders we will need later. I think we’re already bringing in better people based on these tests.
We do a few different things at the academy, a little less militaristically, so people are a little more open to asking questions and learning. Not only do you have to tell them what to do, you also have to learn while they are here. With some of these changes made by Assistant Chief Swearingin and some of her staff, there’s a really good chance I can outdo myself because we’re early in the process, at least in my 21 years with the department, and I’m thinking back a lot further , we are on track to have the most diverse class of recruits we have ever had.
That will change to reflect more closely the citizens we serve.
Fort Worth Crime: Police Morale, Education, Training, and Public Misunderstanding