Police Review Panel

In October 2019, following an officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of Atatiana Jefferson, the City of Fort Worth decided to hire a panel of criminal justice experts that would study the policies and practices of the Fort Worth Police Department and make appropriate recommendations for reform.  This panel’s work was intended to build upon the work of the City’s Task Force on Race and Culture, whose recommendations in December 2018 had led the City in September 2019 to create the Office of Police Oversight Monitor in the fiscal year 2020 budget.  The police expert review panel, co-chaired by Dr. Alex del Carmen and Dr. Theron Bowman, presented an interim report to the City Council in August 2020 and prepared a draft final report for City staff review and comment in January 2021.  The panel presented its final report to City staff on June 20, 2022.  In view of various scheduling conflicts, however, the earliest date on which the panel was able to present its final report to the City Council was September 6, 2022.     



City Manager Announces Panel of National Experts to Conduct Review of Police Department

City Manager David Cooke has selected a panel of national experts to review police department policies and practices and provide recommendations on changes the police department should implement to improve and retain public trust and confidence.

"First and foremost, I want to again express my complete confidence in Chief Kraus and the leadership team at the Fort Worth Police Department," said City Manager Cooke. "To that end, I acknowledge that every organization can benefit from having an independent group of experts review policies and procedures to see where we can improve the work we do with, and for, our community."

This expert panel has extensive knowledge and policing experience in areas including applications of procedural justice, investigative best practices, bias-based policing and use of force. They will conduct a rigorous and completely independent review of the police department.

"We were contacted by firms and individuals around the country who are recognized for this type of work," said Cooke. "After a review of qualifications and experience, I believe we have assembled an excellent team to provide recommendations and best practices that will allow us to improve our police department and the way we work with all members of our community."

The purpose for this review is to identify patterns and practices related to police interactions with the public during investigative stops, searches, arrests, de-escalation and use of force incidents. The panel will examine police policies, operational practices, training, documentation, accountability systems, corrective and reporting procedures, and technology applications. The review will include substantial interaction and listening sessions with community members, groups, and police personnel.

Other areas the panel is expected to review include community policing and engagement, Internal Affairs complaints, recruiting, hiring, and promotions, critical incident interactions within the mental health community and interactions with youth.

The panel will be led by Dr. Alex del Carmen and Dr. Theron L. Bowman. Both experts, with strong local and national ties, who also have extensive police reform experience.

Other panel members include:

  • Lynda Garcia – Policing Campaign Director, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights;
  • Emily Gunston – Washington Lawyers’ Committee and former USDOJ Civil Rights Division Deputy chief;
  • Tom Petroski, JD – former FBI Dallas Chief Legal Counsel;
  • Jonathan Smith – Washington Lawyers' Committee and former USDOJ Civil Rights Division Chief;
  • Marcia Thompson, Esq. – law enforcement and civil rights attorney and consultant;
  • Dr. Rita Watkins – Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas.

Biographies of each panel member can be found below.

City Manager Cooke will present the recommendations to City Council at the Tuesday, November 12 City Council Work Session. Following presentation to the City Council and residents, City Manager Cooke will place a resolution to approve the creation of the panel on the Tuesday, November 19 City Council meeting agenda. The panel’s review process will begin immediately upon finalization of the contracts with each individual or entity. The review is expected to continue for several months, with regular updates, reports and recommendations on changes and improvements.

All reports and updates will be posted online at fortworthtexas.gov/FWPDReview.

Theron Bowman began his public service career in 1983 as an officer with the Arlington Police Department and served in numerous positions before being appointed police chief in 1999. He later served five years as a deputy city manager and director of public safety in Arlington before retiring in 2017. He is a police practices expert and president/CEO of The Bowman Group.

He led the North Texas regional public safety efforts for the 2010 NBA All Star game, MLB World Series games and NFL Super Bowl XLV. He created and led an internal workgroup that explored and later created a statistically significant predictive geospatial algorithm that accurately explained more than 70% of residential burglaries in a city of 370,000 people.

He has led, managed and participated in police practices investigations and audits in multiple locations, including Albuquerque, N.M., Baltimore, Battle Creek, Mich., Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles County, Maricopa County, Ariz., Meridian, Miss., Newark, N.J., New Orleans and Seattle.

He is a federal court-appointed consent decree deputy monitor in Baltimore and a multidisciplinary law enforcement expert on the New Orleans and Memphis monitoring teams. His oversight areas include policies, training, First Amendment, stops, searches and arrests, bias-free policing, misconduct complaints, recruitment, hiring and promotions.

Alex del Carmen received a Ph.D. in criminology from the College of Criminology at Florida State University. He is considered an authority on race and crime, with particular emphasis on racial profiling in law enforcement.

del Carmen has written numerous articles in internationally recognized journals and published several books, including the nationally recognized "Racial Profiling in America."

del Carmen has presented his research findings across the world. Over the past 21 years, he has trained thousands of police officers, including Texas police chiefs. In addition, he is responsible for creating the Texas racial profiling statistical template widely used by law enforcement agencies throughout the state. He is often a guest on CNN, Fox News Radio, Telemundo, Univision and NBC, among other media outlets.

del Carmen has served as a federal monitor for two of the most significant police reform cases in the nation. He has lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the past 21 years and continues to engage in consulting on racial profiling and bias-based policing with police agencies throughout the country.

Lynda Garcia is the policing campaign director at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund. In this role, she oversees the New Era of Public Safety initiative to promote fair, safe and effective policing through collaborative reform. In March of 2019, the Education Fund published a comprehensive report to help build trust between communities and police departments, restore confidence and reimagine a new paradigm of public safety. The report, New Era of Public Safety: A Guide to Fair, Safe, and Effective Community Policing, provides communities, police departments and lawmakers with policy recommendations for best practices to enhance accountability, build trust and improve public and officer safety. The recommendations are adaptable to every department, in every community across the nation. The goals are to advance policing practices that respect and protect human life and ensure safety for all.

Before joining the Leadership Conference, Garcia served as a trial attorney in the Special Litigation Section in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, where she conducted pattern-or-practice investigations of law enforcement agencies and enforced consent decrees to ensure constitutional, bias-free policing. Prior to the Civil Rights Division, Garcia worked at the ACLU national office and the ACLU of New Jersey challenging discriminatory police practices in communities of color.

In her role as a civil rights attorney and policing expert, Garcia has worked collaboratively with communities and police officials across the country. She has testified before Congress on best practices in policing and for congressional briefings to promote a new era of public safety and advance 21st century best practice in policing. In addition to authoring the New Era of Public Safety, Garcia is coauthor of The War on Marijuana in Black and White, a national study documenting racial disparities in marijuana arrests.

Garcia graduated summa cum laude from Hunter College and cum laude from Fordham Law School. After law school, she served as a law clerk to Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York.

Emily Gunston has been deputy legal director at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs since August 2018. She directs and supervises all of the committee’s criminal legal system reform work. She is responsible for significant cases and matters related to police accountability, prison conditions, parole and compassionate release, and the criminalization of poverty. Her work in this area includes individual and class action litigation, as well as policy, regulatory and legislative initiatives to mitigate the harshest conditions of confinement and reduce unnecessary and discriminatory contact with the criminal system and its effects.

Before joining the committee, Gunston was a deputy chief in the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she helped lead the division’s group conducting pattern or practice investigations of police departments. Gunston led the investigation of the Chicago Police Department and played leadership roles in the investigation of and work to reform other police agencies, including the New Orleans Police Department and the Cleveland Division of Police. Her work included litigating and negotiating settlement agreements to resolve investigative findings, as well as ensuring those agreements were effectively implemented. During her nine years with the Special Litigation Section, Gunston also investigated and litigated cases regarding conditions of confinement in jails and prisons and cases to ensure that persons with disabilities are not unnecessarily segregated in institutions in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Gunston was a public defender in Contra Costa County, Calif., from 2001-2009. She received her JD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2001 and a bachelor’s of arts degree from University of Maryland, College Park. In 2013, she was awarded the Attorney General’s John Marshall Award for her work to reform the New Orleans Police Department. In 2015, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the assistant attorney general for civil rights for her work leading the investigation and consent decree negotiation regarding the Cleveland Division of Police.

Tom Petrowski is a consultant, practicing attorney and a visiting assistant professor in the School of Criminology, Criminal Justice and Strategic Studies at Tarleton State University. He is currently assistant special master to the U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico, supporting the U.S. Department of Justice consent decree against the Puerto Rican Police Department.

In 2018, Petrowski retired from the FBI after 23 years of diverse service. He spent about half of his career in the FBI Legal Program. He was assigned to the Legal Instruction Unit at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., where he was the primary use-of-force legal instructor and taught law to new agent trainees, FBI employees attending in-service training and state and local law enforcement managers and officers attending the National Academy and other specialized legal instruction. He then spent three years as the associate division counsel before returning to operational management. At the time of his retirement, he had served as the chief division counsel in the Dallas FBI Field Office for approximately five years. As a division counsel he provided legal counsel on all criminal and national security programs, policy compliance and internal/administrative and legal training matters. In 2016, he received the Manuel J. Gonzalez Ethics Award, the FBI’s highest award for ethics, presented annually to one of the bureau’s 35,000-plus employees.

Petrowski started his government service as a U.S. Army officer and served exclusively in Special Forces, initially as a Special Forces operator and later as a JAG officer assigned to Special Forces. He deployed to Africa, the Middle East, Southwest Asia, Central America and Haiti. After leaving active duty and before entering the FBI, he practiced corporate law in Boston and taught at Northeastern University.

Jonathan M. Smith was appointed executive director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs on July 1, 2016. The committee has an extensive docket of individual and class action litigation that address racial and economic injustice in the criminal legal system, education, employment, housing and public accommodations. Committee staff also work on policy, regulatory and legislative initiatives to strengthen civil rights protections.

Smith served as chief of the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice from 2010-2015. During his tenure, the section was responsible for 18 pattern or practice investigations of civil rights violations by law enforcement, including the civil investigation of the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting and the investigation of gender bias in the handling of sexual assaults by the University of Montana, the Missoula, Mont., Police Department and the Missoula, Mont., County Attorney.

During his time in the Civil Rights Division, the section expanded its work on juvenile justice reform, including the first Civil Rights Division findings that a juvenile court operated in violation of the United States Constitution and federal law. The section also pursued correctional system reform on issues related to prison violence, the abuse of solitary confinement and the protection of women prisoners from sexual assault. In addition, the section worked closely with the Department of Justice’s Access to Justice Initiative to file four Statements of Interest (amicus briefs) in Sixth Amendment systemic reform matters.

Smith has an extensive career in civil legal services before his government services. He was the executive director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, the Public Justice Center in Baltimore and the D.C. Prisoners’ Legal Services Project. In each of these positions, in addition to providing program leadership, he has handled individual, class action and impact litigation, engaged in legislative advocacy and in institutional reform efforts. He started his career as an associate to Virginia civil rights lawyer Victor Glasberg.

Smith serves on the District of Columbia Access to Justice Commission. He is also a member of the American Law Institute. He received the William J. Brennan Jr. Award from the D.C. Bar, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law Advocate for Justice Award, the Meyer Foundation Exponent Award, the Washington Council of Lawyers President’s Award, the Council for Court Excellence Justice Potter Stewart Award, the Center for Non-Profit Advancement EXCELL Award, the U.S. Attorney General’s John Marshall Award and the Executive Office of United States Attorneys Director’s Award.

Marcia K. Thompson has practiced law, been a professor and a law enforcement practitioner with more than 20 years’ experience working in the field. She is currently vice president at Hillard Heintze in the law enforcement consulting division, providing oversight, management and technical assistance on various law enforcement assessments, trainings and reviews.

Thompson has served as a law enforcement administrator and part of the command leadership team and oversaw professional standards, accreditation, compliance, training, records management, recruitment, field training, in-service training, leadership development, succession planning, community engagement, youth outreach and the community advisory committee.

Thompson has served as an adviser to several organizations on civil rights and law enforcement issues for more than 15 years. As a member of both IACP and NOBLE, she has provided insight and guidance on timely and novel civil and human rights matters impacting law enforcement nationally (bias-free policing, Tasers, use of force, stop and frisk, constitutional policing, procedural justice, hate crimes, ethics, affinity group protections). In various capacities, she has provided a policy, training and legal perspective with a civil rights lens on law enforcement, community policing and criminal justice matters.

Thompson is a mediator and collaborative problem solver. She served as an ombudsman for a federal agency handling agency-wide concerns and trends as a neutral regarding policy, practices and procedures. She has conducted large, facilitated dialogues with communities on police and other related public services in cities that include Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Chicago and Baltimore. She has participated in and held other facilitated dialogues on workplace and community topics and has taught others to use similar facilitative and problem-solving techniques to engage stakeholders.

Rita J. Villarreal-Watkins is executive director of the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas. Before her appointment as executive director in 2001, she was project manager for LEMIT's Leadership Command College.

Her academic background includes a bachelor’s of science degree in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University, a master of public administration degree from Texas A&M University, a master of counseling degree and a doctorate in educational leadership and counseling from Sam Houston State University.

As executive director of LEMIT, Villareal-Watkins’ responsibilities include administrative supervision of the institute’s programs and curriculum development. Her proficiency includes cultural diversity, implicit bias and de-escalation training. She also oversees curriculum development, human resource management and supervision, fiscal planning and strategic planning. Villarreal-Watkins has also developed a specialization in trauma response to crisis as a licensed professional counselor.

Villareal-Watkins worked in the criminal justice field for 17 years before joining the LEMIT staff. While she began her career as a juvenile probation officer, her move into policing came in 1984 with the College Station Police Department, and finally as chief deputy for the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office. She is instructor-certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education, as well as an alternative dispute resolution mediator. In 1996, she graduated from the Leadership Command College, and in 1995, the 182nd FBI National Academy, where she was selected section representative of the academy class.