Crime is down in the city of Fort Worth according to statistics released by the police department.
Although the murder rate is up by 8 percent, the overall violent crime rate is down by 1 percent to date. And, the biggest decrease the city saw this year was the drop in property crimes. Thefts, burglaries and other property crimes were down by 11.8 percent.
Chief Jeffrey Halstead pointed to several initiatives that have helped reduce crime in the city over the past year.
He said patrol staffing is the highest it's been in years. He also reassigned officers in the department's Zero Tolerance Unit so they can help knock down crimes that are trending, from serial robberies to home invasions or any ongoing problem.
Just last month, a collaborative effort helped capture five suspects who were committing violent robberies at a string of Metro PCS and T-Mobile stores. Teamwork is helping suppress crime, he said.
The areas of concern are now murders and sexual assaults, but the chief said there are no serial offenders working and often there is no way to predict or prevent those crimes from happening.
Additionally, the Chief Halstead addressed the problem of his officers drinking and driving. Recently his chief of staff was arrested on DWI charges. Seventeen others have been arrested since 2008, including one officer who hit and killed a young mother.
He now requires all officers to attend training and has put the word out for his staff to buddy up and look out for each other. He will send out a letter to his department about the importance of public trust.
His goal is to have no off-duty officer drinking arrests in 2013. Even one will be too many, he said.
Chief Jeffrey Halstead's Letter to the Fort Worth Police Department
I will RESPECTFULLY serve the citizens of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Police Department.
I will DEDICATE myself to the protection of life, property, and our PUBLIC TRUST.
My INTEGRITY, CHARACTER, and COURAGE will be above reproach, and I will accept no less from other members of our Department.
Who are we and how are we doing?
This is the time of year when we all look back in our personal lives and evaluate where we are, how are we doing, and begin to make changes for the next year of our lives. We probably look more in the mirror at this time of year and see if we like what we see. We make positive changes, we exercise more, we start new eating habits, or we purchase new clothes. Some of us are successful…most of us may not meet our newly established personal goals. Regardless…I think it is the self-evaluation that is very important. I'm not big on "resolutions"…especially at New Years but honestly, we, as an organization and as a police culture, really have to make immediate demands upon one another.
Other than a vote on pension and a high profile arrest of a police executive, I think we can say 2012 was a great year and I give thanks to all of you. You complete the mission, you provide the amazing services to our residents, and you keep this finely tuned police machine running like a Formula One race car. But, in the public's mind, we are only graded on our latest negative headline and quite frankly, our latest headline was horrible. So…that is how we are graded externally and perhaps internally. Regardless of our response times, lower crime rate, or professional relationships with our community, we are viewed exactly how the latest headline reads. I know this is not fair and I feel your pain…trust me, I have been scarred and my heart hurts with yours. However, I know what the character of this department is and I am here ready to stand tall and represent the men and women that complete our mission…YOU.
So…what is next for us? How in the world do we overcome another off-duty arrest and allegation of DWI? I know we have made some great progress because if you 'take away' this latest arrest, we have had only ONE "DWI" related offense this entire year. That is a 75% decrease in a calendar year after we mandated alcohol awareness training. I am very pleased with those numbers. Don't forget that we also have to think about family violence allegations, criminal allegations, fraud/theft, and public intoxications. Unfortunately, I have seen way too many of these cases in my last 4 years serving you as Chief and honestly…I don't want to see another one!
But let's get back to US and our image. Hopefully you can help me develop that answer together! I have an idea I want you to consider. When I visit other companies and industries I see certain statements and images that really maintain a focus on what needs to be accomplished at every level of the organization.
For instance, in a manufacturing industry, they have giant signs that shows a message like, "184 days with NO injuries" or maybe another type of business would post "Our image is everything…take a look" and this would be posted next to a mirror for all employees. It may sound pretty basic but they work!
Albert Einstein said, "The significant challenges we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." Ladies and Gentlemen, WE are creating our own significant challenges! So…the usual decisions and mindset approaching these challenges need to be fresh, creative, and crafted to make us successful. Here is what I am doing in my office and I hope all of your Captains/Lieutenants/Sergeants…heck, I hope all of you can join me. There is a 2-prong approach to this idea.
First, for Christmas I am going to buy myself a small 'white-board' and place it in a prominent place in the Chief's office. I will update this board every day in 2013 with the focus statement of: "___ days since our last off duty arrest". My goal is that on December 31st, 2013, the number on this board is 365!! There is absolutely NO excuse in the world that we cannot raise the level of our ethics, actions, and expectations so that we will be successful. But we have to do this together…and that brings me to "step 2".
Secondly, I am asking EVERYONE in our department to find their best friend in the PD, mentor, boss, partner, whoever your closest member of the department is. Find that person and spend about 15 minutes with them immediately after reading this and make a pact with them. Set up a contract with them and vow to one another that no matter what…you will NOT let your actions or decisions get you in trouble in 2013! Shake on it, hug each other, make that promise like your career depends on it because frankly, it does! Public scrutiny regarding our off duty behavior increases with every incident and if you have not noticed, across the nation, our profession is taking negative hits within the media and within our support networks. So…this personal commitment, contract, promise or professional bond is one of the most important things you can do for us. Do it today…I would love for our department to be "Incident free in one-three" (2013).
In reference to our profession taking so many hits lately, this is a national trend and I am ready to combat this trend and be smarter than other departments. I am going to add a civilian "Director of Marketing and Communications" in early 2013. The funding for this position came from CCPD so General Fund dollars are not used. This person will help me 'brand' our department, creatively market our people and our mission, and positively promote our message in all areas of our City, especially the strong support areas. This will greatly benefit us for years to come! We will build stronger political partnerships, increase exposure of our positive crime trends, and assist with our growth as a department across all media fronts! We will aggressively market our mission, our success, and build the strongest communications partnerships ever in the history of the PD. It will be exciting for all of us and will once again, place us in the national spotlight as a true leader in law enforcement!
On a personal note, I wanted to express my appreciation to all of you that have reached out to me, to some of our employees that have been the focus of negative attention and those of you that have gone out of your way to support one another. We truly are a "police family" and I think it is time for us to bond together, stand tall in our career, and focus on our future. You will make it amazing for all of us and as your Chief, I could not be more proud to join you on this crusade…I have made my pact and now I need you to!
I hope the holidays were a blessing to you and your loved ones.
Godspeed to all of you and be safe,
KDFW FOX 4
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