The unit will consist of 10 civilian response specialists who will assist patrol officers in answering low-priority, non-violent calls, Officer Jimmy Pollozani with the FWPD public information office told The Texan.
The impetus for creating the civilian response unit, according to Pollozani, was an examination by the command staff of FWPD into the practices of other metropolitan areas to alleviate the call load of police officers.
Although groups have made a dozen demands to reform the FWPD, this particular unit addition does not fit into any of the demand categories.
According to a report by the Police Executive Research Forum and funded by the Department of Justice, civilian employment in U.S. law enforcement agencies has increased steadily since 1937, with civilians now accounting for nearly a third of full-time employees in police agencies.
The civilian response unit specialists will not carry a firearm, will not accompany police officers, and are not meant to replace police officers, but instead will “supplement patrol staffing by taking low-priority calls, which will free up sworn officers to patrol their beats and address more serious crime concerns in the community.”
According to the job description posted by the city, the civilian responders must be 18 or older, have a high school diploma, a valid driver’s license, and undergo a criminal history background check and polygraph examination.
The new unit may be called on to respond to traffic collision calls and complete accident reports, maintain records, property and evidence for the department, and provide traffic control during special events or power outages.
The city will train the newest unit responders; however, the training will not be as extensive as that undertaken by an officer who graduates from the police academy.
The city will receive applications for the positions through October 16 and hopes to have the unit operating by the beginning of 2021, Pollozani commented.
Fort Worth’s department is under review by an expert panel led by Dr. Theron Bowman and Dr. Alex Delcarmen which has already made several recommendations for improving department functions. The review was initiated and appointed by City Manager David Cooke following the death of Atatiana Jefferson. The panel’s final report is expected this month.
FWPD Police Chief Ed Kraus announced his retirement in July. He is expected to continue with the department through December 2020.
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Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.