Fort Worth police chief proposes oversight review board; but he would pick the members

The Fort Worth police chief is facing pushback for proposing to appoint his own community police review board.

Critics are worried there will not be enough diversity or independence for a panel that could ultimately shape police policy.

Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker says she’s open to the idea of Chief Neil Noakes’ creation of a community advisory board.

"Right now, I think what the chief is proposing is a really solid step in the right direction," she said.

"Trust can be broken overnight, but trust cannot be rebuilt overnight," Noakes said. "And there’s a long history of mistrust with police in some communities in Fort Worth."

The chief laid out the mission for a 19-member board. The city says the panel will amplify citizens’ voices on matters involving policing. He has commitments thus far from 13 various civic, social and faith leaders.

Cory Session is a former member of the race and culture task force. He says the entire idea of a community advisory board for the police chief ignores what the task force has recommended: that being a totally independent police oversight review board. 

"I’m not sure what part the city council is missing. This is not what we recommended. Citizens can’t go to the advisory board and make a complaint and expect that it will be investigated independent of internal affairs," he said. "The police chief is more than welcome to have advisors. You can create this advisory board, but it cannot suffice and be a substitute for a citizens review board."

Other concerns are that young vocal advocates, such as some who spearheaded protests during some of the city’s racially tense police incidents, are not included. The chief says that will be addressed.

"I think some council members may feel like it’s a substitute. I think there were those who were very vocal on Tuesday and said this is a positive step," Parker said. "But it’s not enough for them in particular with independent oversight. In my opinion, I’m worried about redundancy."

Session passionately feels otherwise.

"If you don’t listen to the citizens of Fort Worth, you’re damned and you’re doomed," he said. "This is not what they want. Take those blinders off. The citizens told you what they want it. Now, you’re telling them what they’re going to get, and that’s not right."

The mayor mentioned her concern about redundancy. Part of her point involves the fairly recent creation of the city's police oversight monitor. It provides an avenue for people to file complaints regarding police issues. 

The mayor says the city is working to do a better job of making sure citizens are aware of that.