Fort Worth’s deep-pocketed police union recently threw its support behind Mattie Parker, former chief of staff for soon-to-be-outgoing Mayor Betsy Price and current candidate for mayor. Manny Ramirez, head of the Fort Worth Police Officers’ Association, used the announcement to remind locals about recent “radical attempts” to add controls and oversight to local police spending.
Parker “has stood shoulder to shoulder with us in the battle to defeat radical attempts to ‘defund’ the Fort Worth Police Department,” Ramirez said.
Thousands of Fort Worthians of all political persuasions joined together last summer to vote against renewing the Crime Control and Prevention District (CCPD), which uses a half-cent tax to raise about $80 million in discretionary funds for the police budget every year (“Reining in Police Spending,” June 2020). The mayor and city council oversee the CCPD, meaning there is currently no independent oversight of the tax-funded district. A majority of Fort Worthians voted to renew the district, and the next renewal vote is now a decade away.
Ramirez’ posturing is a rebuke of the nonviolent protests that occupied Fort Worth’s downtown and West 7th corridor for several weeks last summer and the types of societal changes that are sweeping the country. Less than a quarter of 18- to 23-year-olds approved of Donald Trump’s presidency and his disdain for the Black Lives Matter movement, according to the Pew Center, a nonpartisan American think tank.
An endorsement from the Fort Worth Police Officers Association is undoubtedly a political boost in a city that historically places the status quo over progress when it comes to mayoral races. Beyond campaign contributions, Fort Worth police officers vote, and vote as a bloc. With meaningful reforms and improved citizen oversight, one day, an endorsement by the FWPOA may be seen as an endorsement by the broader community.
Given the Fort Worth police departments’ documented decades of racial profiling practices during vehicle stops and penchant for cramming police cameras into Black neighborhoods, many in Fort Worth will be looking to vote against the police union’s chosen few come May 1.