De-escalation issues and excessive use of force still remain the major problem for the Fort Worth police department, report says
IN THE CITY OF FORT WORTH, TEXAS — The police force serving the 12th largest city in the United States has some work to do, according to a new report that is 96 pages long and was handed to council members in Fort Worth on Tuesday.
After a string of high-profile cases involving the use of force, including the killing of Atatiana Jefferson in October 2019, the city of Atlanta relied in 2020 on a group of law enforcement professionals to conduct an investigation into the police department.
When cops arrived at her house to conduct a welfare check, Jefferson was already dead from gunshot wounds when they entered. She was without a weapon.
Dr. Alex del Carmen, a well-known criminologist and trainer for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is in charge of the panel and serves as its chair.
Additionally, Dr. Theron Bowman serves as the panel’s leader. He served in the role of police chief for the City of Arlington in the past.
In addition to graduating from the FBI National Academy, the FBI National Executive Institute, and the Senior Management Institute for Police, Bowman also holds this distinction.
In the year 2020, an early study indicated that the department’s crisis response team had multiple failures and that there were concerns with the collection of data concerning accountability.
In addition, it brought to light the fact that the appropriate use of force and de-escalation strategies were not always implemented.
Since the initial report was published, the department has appointed Chief Neil Noakes, who has committed to implement a zero-tolerance policy regarding poor policing practices while he is in charge of the agency.
Since Noakes had been promoted from within, he was familiar with the challenges that the department faced.
According to the fresh report that was presented on Tuesday, he still has a long way to go.
According to the executive summary, the panel came to the conclusion that there were still problems with embracing de-escalation and employing force as retaliation.
Additionally, it was discovered that supervisors were not holding cops accountable for their actions.
According to what was written in the report, “The concerns revealed in this report, while not unique, are severe and will demand major attention from the leadership of the Department and the City.”
“There is still a significant problem that has led to an increase in distrust, and that problem is the failure to apply effective tactics for de-escalation. Accountability for forceful police techniques is frequently inadequate or counterproductive. It can also emphasize form over substance, missing both individual and systemic problems in the process. The problem was made much worse when the Panel received complaints from supervisors in the Department that middle managers were discouraged from raising difficulties unless there had been a complaint or a public uproar. This made the problem even more difficult to solve.”
The investigation also brought to light the fact that on some calls, cops do not respect the members of the public.
This includes using profanity and other harsh words, and one item implies that reports of such incidents are not even filed to the department of internal affairs.
“The implementation of sound policies and training is not followed by rigorous accountability. Officer conduct that creates dangers for both the officer and the community, such as cursing, abusive language, the failure to de-escalate, unnecessary shows of force, and tactical mistakes, is sometimes not rebuked by the chain of command or investigated by Internal Affairs. These behaviors include failing to de-escalate a situation, showing unnecessary force, and failing to de-escalate a situation.”
The investigation also highlighted an alarming use of force while individuals were being held in custody or restrained with handcuffs.
“The Panel observed a worrisome trend of the exhibition of Tasers, punching, and force against persons in handcuffs under situations in which there was no threat of resistance present,” said the report. “The use of Tasers, punching, and force were all used against these individuals.”
In addition, the report discovered that the department is still having trouble recruiting candidates from a more diverse pool.
In addition to this, it was said that no-knock warrants were commonly employed as training exercises despite the fact that safer alternatives were available and ought to have been examined or applied.
You may read the complete report by clicking here.
After the most recent report was submitted to the council, Noakes did address the body and informed them that adjustments had been made inside the department.
“Some of the changes we’ve made include clarification to departmental policies in training on the appropriate use of tasers and force, supervisory reviews and discipline, and revisions to use of force policies,” Noakes said. “These revisions to use of force policies emphasize de-escalation techniques.”
After the report was made public, Cory Session gave an interview to WFAA; he has been working with the city for almost a decade to improve connections with the community, particularly communities of color.
“It reflects the city and acts as a mirror for the city. However, the purpose of mirrors is not to duplicate what you see; rather, they are designed to rectify what you see “Session stated.
He went on to say that “it is incumbent on everybody, the city council, the police chief, and the community to ensure that these things do not happen.”
However, session was not discouraged in any way. According to him, everything that the department needs to work on is now publicly available; the only thing that remains is for adjustments to be put into effect.
According to what Session said, the chief of the department is “dedicated to making sure that everyone in his department follows the rules or faces repercussions.”
“When we let certain people in the department keep things a secret from the rest of the department, it is detrimental to the city as a whole. What the city is now seeing is something that residents have been talking about for years, and now that everything is out in the open and can no longer be concealed, “he said.
“Every day, officers accomplish a tremendous amount of good, but the small minority who bring shame to the badge is constantly exaggerated. I have full faith that this chief will look into the matter.”