(CBSDFW.COM) – Four cities in North Texas are looking for their next police chief: Arlington, Bedford, Dallas and Fort Worth. According to one police expert, that search is becoming more difficult.
Dr. Theron Bowman owns a police consultant firm and is part of the search in Arlington and in other states.
“We’re looking at every police agency across the country, seeking that needle in a haystack,” Bowman told CBS 11’s Doug Dunbar. Problem number one, he says is that a lot of chiefs are eligible to retire, and the method of policing they’ve practiced for decades is outdated. “A lot of them are opting to get out and not deal with the rapidly changing policing environment.”
Events like the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmad Arbury, Brionna Taylor and Atatiana Jefferson have galvanized cities and communities against their own police. This year, chiefs in Louisville, Atlanta, Portland, Rochester and Seattle all stepped down.
Bowman says item number one in his search for a new chief, in any city, is simple. “A chief who understands community diversity,” said Bowman. “Who understands how to actually recruit, hire and train new officers that reflect the community.”
Those are some of the qualities Dallas Police Department is looking for. “I think Dallas is a unique organization because of its size and the complexity of what we have to manager her,” said Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune. He says the next chief will be chosen only after input from the community, religious leaders and activists. “We want to try to provide a broad cross-section because this has to be a chief for everybody.”
That’s exactly the type of thinking Fort Worth is looking for in its next chief, according to Deputy City Manager Jay Chapa. He says important qualities include “strong ties to building community trust, humbleness, the ability to listen.” He says it’s also extremely important for the next chief to be a good communicator.
Today’s incoming chiefs not only have to advocate for their officers but also be an architect who can build a modern support system across the city. “Sometimes it takes help from mental health, from parks and rec departments and libraries in order to build the kind of agency response that every community member should experience,” said Bowman.
And adapting to this evolving type of policing, Bowman says, boils down to one thing any incoming chief is going to have to embrace. “Any way you look at it, change is about us, and policing will never be the same as it was ten years ago.”
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