While acknowledging there is a “significant decline in morale” among the ranks of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association, its board is urging members to refrain from calling for a vote of no-confidence against Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald.
The letter, which was obtained by the Star-Telegram, details a litany of grievances against the embattled chief, who in recent weeks has been criticized for demoting two high-ranking administrators in connection with the leaking of a controversial arrest video and most recently, the firing of an officer who shot and wounded a man who was holding a barbecue fork.
Officer Courtney Johnson went to trial on a charge of aggravated assault by a public servant in the shooting of Craigory Adams on June 23, 2015, but the charges were dropped after a mistrial.
Fitzgerald, saying Johnson’s “actions were careless,” fired the officer.
“It is unnerving to know you could be the next officer thrown under the bus for political expedience,” the letter stated.
While questioning Fitzgerald’s ability to lead the more than 1,600 police officers in the department, the FWPOA’s board of directors urged members against calling for a vote of no-confidence, which the letter describes as an “outdated tactic with no political purpose which rarely ends in the desired result.”
The letter notes that a no-confidence vote would also place elected officials in a “precarious position.”
However, the board said if members chose to go that route, the “Board of Directors will comply.”
Rick Van Houten, FWPOA president, said the letter was an internal communication among the board and its membership.
Van Houten said the letter speaks for itself and declined to comment further.
Mayor Betsy Price was out of state and could not be reached for comment, according to a city staff member. Fitzgerald sent an email respectfully declining to comment on the letter.
The Fort Worth Black Law Enforcement Officers Association and the National Latino Law Enforcement Organization, Fort Worth chapter, also declined comment.