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Local City Council Votes Down Police Advisory Board

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Fort Worth Police Cruiser | Image by NBC DFW

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A proposed police advisory board was voted down on Tuesday by the Fort Worth City Council.

The Fort Worth Race and Culture Task Force initially recommended the community advisory board as a way to bridge disparities and increase transparency between the Fort Worth Police Department and the public, according to former task force co-chair Bob Ray Sanders.

The proposed board would not oversee the police department but would rather advise, review police policy, and make recommendations to the police chief. Sanders explained that members of the board would not have the authority to implement changes on their own.

Sanders advocated for the proposed board during Tuesday night’s Fort Worth city council meeting, but it failed to pass by a 5-4 vote.

Councilmember Chris Nettles, who supported the creation of the board, said, “This board will bring an extra layer that gives an independent community voice.”

In addition to Nettles, councilmembers Elizabeth Beck, Gyna Bivens, and Jared Williams voted in favor of the proposal, but it was defeated when councilmembers Alan Blaylock, Michael Crain, Leonard Firestone, and Carlos Flores voted against it, along with Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker.

Opponents of the board suggested that it would replicate already existing programs and needlessly duplicate bureaucracy while not achieving the stated goals.

For example, the president of the North Fort Worth Alliance, Russell Fuller, claimed, “Initiating another administrative body to look at the same information and make recommendations on the same information is a waste of time and money.”

Furthermore, Chief Neil Noakes had expressed his concerns, saying that similar boards in other cities across the country actually worsened relationships between communities and their police.

However, he insisted that he maintains a commitment to the Fort Worth community, saying, “None of us are truly independent. We need one another.”

Councilmember Williams said, “I’m a little disappointed in not being able to come to a workable solution, it just means we have more work to do in that regard.”

“My hope was that my colleagues and I could get to amendments that would ensure that we provide our residents with a seat on the table ultimately, and have conversations about what it takes for our neighborhoods to be safe and well, and when will our neighborhoods have a seat at the table to be able to give input on that?” she continued.

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