FORT WORTH, Texas - Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price is in a reflective mood as her time in office is coming to an end.
Price first ran for public office in 2000 and her decade-long tenure as mayor is wrapping up. In January she announced she would not seek re-election.
"I’m excited about it, but it’s also kind of sad to come to an end," she said.
With just weeks until she returns to life as a private citizen, Price took time to speak with FOX 4 about the longest tenure of any mayor in Fort Worth’s history.
"This is a job you should do, if you’re going to do it right, because you’re passionate about this city, because you want to be a servant," Price said.
The shelves in her office offer a glimpse of roads traveled, both smoothly and contentiously.
This past year, racial tensions amid the George Floyd killing spilled over into city hall as angry protesters demanded change within Fort Worth police and city government.
"Often times they were asking for things that under Texas law can’t be done. But when you do talk to them most of them will go, ‘Okay I understand that, what if we do this?’ That’s what you want, open dialogue," Price said.
The killing of Atatiana Jefferson is among the most difficult incidents the mayor has navigated. Former FWPD Officer Aaron Dean is charged with murder. He shot through a window and killed Jefferson, who was babysitting her nephew. A neighbor called for a welfare check because their front door was open late at night.
"The judge has said that trial will take place this summer. I think that’ll help in the healing of this community. But I think we’ve made a lot of changes that are helping with that. Our officers have a lot of additional training, we’ve increased our NPO, Neighborhood Police Officers, on the street. We’ve increased our crisis intervention team to respond softly to calls that aren’t violent," Price said.
Price says she believes the city acted compassionately in wake of Jefferson’s death. But she has regrets with another high profile racial incident -- the arrest of Jacqueline Craig and her daughter in 2019 after Craig called police to complain that her neighbor was harassing her son.
"Our response to that was not what it should’ve been. I don’t think we heard as much from the community as we should’ve at the time. And I think looking back and studying that really helped us with our response on Atatiana Jefferson," Price said.
Price points to progress while noting there is more work to be done.
"Are we perfect? No. But we’re making good strides. And if we continue to push forward we will get a better understanding from everybody," she said.