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TARRANT COUNTY (CBS 11 NEWS) – Fort Worth police officers, city staff and elected officials stood behind Joel Fitzgerald applauding and cheering as he talked publicly for the first time at a news conference outside city hall on Monday.

Fitzgerald talked about taking the reigns of the police department. “There’s so many things that need to be done and so many things that, you know, obstacles that need to be overcome that I’m going to have a full plate there’s no doubt about it.”

The 44-year-old Philadelphia-native will be the first African-American police chief in Fort Worth, just as he was in Allentown, Pennsylvania and Missouri City, Texas from 2009 to 2013.

“We’ve come so far, and so far as a city that its a shame that that should have to be a consideration,” he said as the audience applauded. “With that being said, I know what responsibilities come with my position and what I mean to the community.”

Fitzgerald also said that a big part of his responsibility is improving community relations — especially among minority youth. “Sometimes it’s more than just being the occupying force, sometimes it’s involving ourselves in the fabric of what goes on within the community,” he said, adding, “And that’s one thing that I promise in my time here is to make sure we engage the community members actively.”

The new chief says Fort Worth is already ahead of many other cities in terms of community and city support.

“I don’t think people know how far ahead of the game we are right now,” Fitzgerald said. “And now it’s time to step on the gas pedal and move forward as a total community and I think we’re well positioned to do that.”

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