The finalists will participate in a series of panel interviews next week that will feature community members such as internal police staff, department heads, and several community groups, Cooke said. He will also interview the candidates.
“It’s important to me to get an indication from the people they’d have to lead,” Cooke said.
After considering their experience and background, he said he will evaluate the finalists based on their ability to lead a city of diverse communities, as well as a police department of 1,600 officers.
Each of the finalists has experience in cities larger than Fort Worth, Cooke also said.
“I’m looking for somebody that’s going to be out in the community and can do equally well in the African American community, Hispanic community, you fill in the blank.” He said.
“Just that they’re comfortable, and they are trying to develop a partnership with all those groups. I think that interaction in that leadership is important.”
The theme of community involvement will continue throughout the rest of the hiring process. A Community Forum open to the public will be held from 7-9 p.m. on Sept. 10 at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex, as announced in the City Council meeting on Tuesday night.
Fort Worth residents can also submit questions for the finalists at mysidewalk.com or yourfortworth.org, through email to [email protected] or by calling Catherine Huckaby at 817-392-8085.
Cooke said the forum and questions will be an opportunity to gauge public reaction to the finalists and get immediate feedback.
Mayor Betsy Price commended the process for its transparency and “public inclusiveness” during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
“We’re looking forward to hearing who the finalists are,” Price said in the Pre-Council meeting.
The process began last January when a hired search firm helped scout potential police chief candidates, Cooke said. After six to eight weeks of screening, chosen candidates then submitted a series of written responses to the department that related to relevant issues in Fort Worth.
“It really is about how you stay engaged with the community,” Cooke said.
The list was eventually narrowed down to the final six candidates after a mix of pre-recorded video interviews and phone interviews with Cooke.
Former Police Chief Jeff Halstead announced his retirement in November 2014. He officially retired in January, and Rhonda Robertson has served as active Chief of Police since.
A date for the final hiring decision has not yet been announced. Cooke said it depends on how fast it takes for the groups to reach a general consensus after the interviews and forum.
“I always hope for broad consensus right off the bat,” he said.