Fort Worth Police Chief Fights Bias-Based Policing

ChiefHalstead The police in Fort Worth, TX, continue taking steps toward a more inclusive city.

Yesterday, a little over 18 months after his force raided a gay bar, Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead announced the implementation of a new policy barring "bias-based policing," including LGBT biases.

The policy reads:

Officers shall not use race, color, gender, age, national origin, religion, disability, economic status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, transgender status, membership in a cultural group or an individual’s ability/inability to speak English as the criteria for determining when or how to take enforcement action or provide police services.

Halstead told the Dallas Voice that the rule "incorporates language located throughout departmental General Orders and consolidates it into one succinct order that clearly defines what bias-based policing means and strictly prohibits it."

While the Fort Worth police were criticized for the 2009 raid on Rainbow Lounge, Halstead explained that the policy was not a reaction to any specific event. It's simply "a proactive step to continue building trust in the community, which is essential for public and officer safety.”

In addition to the bias-based prohibitions, the force has started planning an alert program for hate and bias crime reports. "We are looking to begin tracking 'bias' incidents, meaning that if any actions or statements are made as a part of a crime, but the crime itself does not meet the criteria of a hate crime, we want to be able to track those as 'bias incidents,'" said Halstead, who worked to rebuild relations between LGBT communities and coppers after the raid.

Apparently Halstead's efforts are paying off, because local LGBT leader Jon Nelson praised the chief's progress: "We didn’t discuss this with him. Nobody pressured him to do this. He did it on his own."

He continued, "[The policy is] as clear as it can be. It puts his employees on notice: they have to act without bias, and there are specific ramifications if they fail in that. I say, good for him.”