The Fort Worth Police Department has its roots back in the old west. Twenty-four years after the little community was founded on the bluffs over the Trinity River, Fort Worth received its city charter from the state legislature on March 1, 1873. When the first municipal elections were held two days later Ed Terrell was elected first town marshal of Fort Worth. The city council met on March 4 and created the Fort Worth Police Department. The new department took up its duties April 10, and on April 22 the first police badge, a simple star, was approved by the council. The fledgling department began with just four appointed “deputies” in addition to the marshal. A fifth officer, Hague Tucker, an African-American, was added on April 23, tasked with policing his own people in town — and no others.

Overview

A month after its creation the FWPD fell victim to a sluggish local economy. Three of the original four officers were let go in a belt-tightening move. New officers were soon hired for the duration of the cattle season after the cowboys proved too much for the marshal and two deputies to handle alone.

Through the 19th century the marshal doubled as the police chief, an arrangement that would continue until the city commission form of government was adopted in 1908. The last elected “city marshal” was J.H. Maddox in 1905. L.J. Polk was appointed to be the city’s top cop by commissioners on April 14, 1909, and the position has been known ever since as “Chief of Police”.

None of the first five marshals starting in 1873 lasted very long as most men were not up to the demands of being a frontier marshal. Timothy Isaiah Courtright became number six when he was elected in 1876. He brought to the job a real talent for handling cowboys plus widely respected skill with a six-gun. Both served him well for three terms.

The police force grew with the city, along the way becoming a much more professional department. For many years, policemen supplemented their meager salaries with a percentage of “fees and fines” collected by the city. Unfortunately, that system also encouraged rampant corruption. In 1889 Marshal Sam Farmer instituted the first written policies and procedures for the department. A standard uniform and badge were also introduced at this time: The uniform to consist of navy blue pants and matching frock coat topped by either blue helmet in the summer and a blue cap in the winter; the badge to consist of a shield with an eagle standing upon it. The chief and his first deputy wore a black slouch hat with their uniform. In 1914, the department adopted the current badge: a gold shield with a crouching panther atop it, honoring Fort Worth’s “Panther City” origins. The first “plain-clothes” detective was W. M. Rea, appointed in 1883. Crime investigation was still in its infancy, but Fort Worth was no backwater in adopting modern methods.

In the late 19th century, officers either walked their beats or rode horseback. Standard arms were still a six-gun and a billy club, both of which the officer himself had to provide. In those days, officers kept in touch with the station house through telephone “call boxes” strategically placed around town.

Early in the 20th century, the department moved from the age of horses to motorcycles and bicycles. In 1909 Henry Lewis became the first officer to do his patrolling on a motorcycle, a 5-horsepower “Indian” bike. Lewis immediately put his motorized “steed” to work catching speeders. He set up a “speed trap” in the 100 block of West 7th St. by measuring an eighth of a mile, then timing cars as they passed him with a stop watch. Those found to be speeding, to their great surprise, were pulled over within a few blocks. Five years later, the department put 15 patrolmen on bicycles, an experiment that ended in 1917. The first patrol car was added in 1914 to keep up with the growing number of automobiles in the population. The move toward motorized transportation obscured the fact that the department was not that far removed from its frontier days. The official end of the “Mounted Force” did not come until 1924 when the last horse was retired to pasture, and the last mounted officer, Thomas Bounds, was reassigned to the pound.

The next significant innovation came in the 1930s. On Halloween night 1933, headquarters used a radio to dispatch a police car to 3454 Lowell to investigate a report of pranksters. In a few years, every patrol car was equipped with a two-way radio.

Over the next seven decades steady growth in the size of the FWPD was accompanied by new technologies, evolving policies, and growing diversity in the makeup of the force. After 1954 the department was fully integrated, and in the next decade women officers joined the ranks. In 1993 Chief T.R. Windham launched the Citizens on Patrol Program (COPS) to forge a closer cooperation between police and residents of suburban neighborhoods.

What started in 1873 as a four-man amateur force has grown into a modern, professional department of over 1300 uniformed officers and detectives and 347 non-sworn personnel. Today, the department's jurisdiction is divided in four main divisions, North, South, East and West, and is further divided into Neighborhood Policing Districts. Police officers are assigned to a particular NPD and assigned patrol duties. Each district is overseen by a police lieutenant and each division is overseen by a commanding officer, a Captain. Each of the three (normal) shifts are then supervised by a Sergeant. The men and women of the FWPD now have computers in their patrol cars and use the latest in weapons and forensic technology. As the city expands in the 21st century, the FWPD is expanding with it, continuing to provide a safe community for all its citizens.

Department bureaus and ranks

There are six bureaus in the Fort Worth Police Department: administrative service (headed by Assistant Director K. Shuror), executive service (Deputy Chief K. W. Flynn), operational support (Deputy Chief C. E. Ramirez), north/west field operations Deputy Chief R.K. Robertson), south/east field operations (Deputy Chief L. Curtis) and special services (Deputy Chief R. M. Manning).

Ranks within the department are officer, corporal/investigator, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, deputy chief and chief. Patricia J. Kneblick is currently serving as the interim chief.

Line of Duty Deaths

Fifty-five officers have lost their lives in the line of duty, the most recent being Officer Dwayne Freeto, who was killed while helping a stranded motorist. [1]

Demographics[2]

  • Male: 83 percent
  • Female: 17 percent
  • White: 75 percent
  • Hispanic: 13 percent
  • African-American/Black: 12 percent

Fort Worth Police Officers' Association

In the late 19th century, Fort Worth police officers created the Fort Worth Police Benevolent Association as a fraternal group to help provide emergency assistance to police officers. It is still in existence today. In 1948, members of this original group formed the Fort Worth Police Officers' Association. The Fort Worth Police Officers Association began as a fraternal group. one of the main purposes of the new association was to campaign for benefits for police employees.

The Fort Worth Police Officers Association is now a federally recognized labor organization and is the sole and exclusive bargaining agent for all Fort WOrth Police Officers.

Since it’s founding, the Fort Worth Police Officers' Association has continued to work toward the goal of improving benefits for all officers and employees of the department.

The Fort Worth Police Officers' Association now represents over 1400 members of the police department. Annual activities include the summer picnic and on-duty dinners on both Thanksgiving and Christmas day. The association has also been responsible for the establishment of a privately funded memorial to honor fallen Fort Worth police officers and firefighters.

The association also continues to be very active in working to enhance police pay and benefits, insurance, and retirement benefits for all active and retired employees.

National Latino Police Officers' Association - Fort Worth Chapter

In June 2004, the Fort Worth Latino Police Officers' Association formed as an advocacy group and is actively involved in almost every area of the judicial system, including the legislature.

Fort Worth Black Law Enforcement Officers' Association

The FWBLEOA was formed in May 2004 and strives to improve community relationships through professional policing and dedicated community service, while ensuring equal opportunities for minority officers.

Fort Worth Police Historical Association

The Fort Worth Police Department has a rich and colorful history that dates back more than a century. The department's historical association, a volunteer group of active and retired members of the department, is committed to saving the history of Fort Worth law enforcement. Through visual presentations, demonstrations, authentic uniforms and real artifacts, the association brings the history of the department to life.

See also

List of law enforcement agencies in Texas

Contact Information

350 W. Belknap Street
Fort Worth
TX 76102
Phone: (817) 335-4222

External links

  • The Officer Down Memorial Page
  • Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics, 2000: Data for Individual State and Local Agencies with 100 or More Officers
  • Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.