Eichenwald asked the new chief how he was able to earn all those degrees while working as a police officer.
Fitzgerald said he’s a family man and doing all that was as hard on his family as it was on him as a working person. “It requires a lot of personal sacrifice,” he said. “I was able to balance my work performance with my academic performance. It was a challenge.”
Fitzgerald’s wife is a detective in the Stafford, Tex., police department. Stafford is next to Missouri City. Both towns are suburbs of Houston. The couple has three children, including a 21-year-old son who also plans a career in law enforcement.
Eichenwald, who also is a Philadelphia native, asked Fitzgerald about his relationship with Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, one of his references.
“We actually were altar boys together,” said Fitzgerald. “He’s a friend of mine. We grew up in the same neighborhood.”
When Guridy asked Fitzgerald about the prospects of him staying in Allentown for a long time, the chief indicated he had been pursuing other job opportunities, but withdrew from them to proceed with the Allentown selection process. “This is where I want to be. I’ll be here as long as you’ll have me.”
Missouri City has been ranked as one of the top 100 Safest Cities in America by Congressional Quarterly Magazine.
Guridy said Missouri City has not had a murder since 2010. He said it is a more affluent community than Allentown, with a median household income is about $84,000, compared to around $35,000 here.
He asked how Fitzgerald will reduce crime in Allentown.
As a first step, Fitzgerald said he will benefit from meeting more people in the city, including community organizations and church groups.
“Are we going to every community meeting? Are we getting the input and communication level we need?’ asked the chief. “We have to listen better. We really want the heads of different organizations around the city to be proactive and we have to be engaged with those persons to make a better Allentown.”
Pawlowski told council that Missouri City has more than 85,000 residents. Allentown has about 119,000. He said that city’s police department has 121 full-time officers and civilian employees, which is about the same number as Allentown.
Fitzgerald said in Missouri City, the police department and citizens take a shared approach to crime prevention. “We educate the community on things to look out for, especially in regard to violent crime, and ways to mitigate crime.”
He said Missouri City residents have been receptive to that approach and “we have many community groups that are very active in the crime prevention effort. We’ve been able to leverage our relationship with the community to have a positive effect on crime.
“Many times murder and violent crimes are things we can’t prevent.
Some of them have to do with relationships. There’s a lot of domestic violence in homes that we’re not able to monitor.” But he added police can help by becoming more active and directing people who need help to social services.
As chief in Missouri City, Fitzgerald revamped the disciplinary, recruiting and promotional testing, said Pawlowski. He also acquired grants to increase staffing and improve department technology. And he implemented strategies to facilitate crime prevention analysis and officer deployment.