City of Fort Worth sees drop in overall crime

Fort Worth's police chief had good news to share with city council members Tuesday afternoon.

Chief Joel Fitzgerald reported overall crime is down in the city by 2.4 percent and prospects for a fully staffed force are good.

The chief credited a leaner force and better relationships with the community for the drop in overall crime. All while the number of officers in Fort Worth continues to grow.

"In some of the toughest times we've seen as police, we're asking guys to give up a day off work to come in and volunteer to work overtime,” said Fitzgerald. “They've done it."

He also pointed to community forums held all over the city where he and his command staff get to hear from the citizens and build bonds.

"We found that engaging youth early and often can sometimes avoid or help us to avoid handling a youth later on in life,” Fitzgerald explained.

All of this happens as Dallas officers are asking for higher pay and Dallas Police Chief David Brown pleads with city leaders for more money to hire officers.

Earlier this month, Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez responded with a proposed budget, including higher pay for most police officers and plans to hire 200 new officers. But police unions say Dallas needs to dig deeper and pay more.

In fact, many Dallas officers have left to work in Fort Worth and other surrounding cities because the pay is better. In fact, there is an $8,000 difference in starting salary between Dallas and Fort Worth.

Fitzgerald says he's seen applicants from nearby departments and out of state. He says his department is now closer to a fully staffed force than it's ever been.

"We're looking for good people,” said Fitzgerald. “And whether they come from here in Texas or they come from outside of Texas, we're gonna bring our staffing up to a point where we need to be and get the right people in the right seats."

A big part of that is Fort Worth Department's brand new training facility. And as long as they can keep plenty of training officers in the mix, they are able to train a lot better, faster and at a lower cost than some other departments.