Fitzgerald Accepts Waterloo Police Chief Position

Fitzgerald Accepts Waterloo Police Chief Position;
Council to Ratify Monday, April 20

(Waterloo, IA) Chief Deputy Sheriff of Philadelphia Dr. Joel Fitzgerald, Sr. has accepted the position to become the new police chief for the City of Waterloo which will be ratified by City Council members in Waterloo next Monday.

The police chief position became available at the end of November 2019, when Dan Trelka retired from the force and later announced his campaign to run for Black Hawk County Sheriff.  From the pool of applicants, four candidates were given interviews and where presented to the community in public forums in February 2020.

“Waterloo is honored to have had such high caliber police professionals, both internal and external seeking to serve and protect our residents,” says Mayor Quentin Hart. “Dr. Fitzgerald simply stood out from the group based on  his level of education, professional experience, and success in implementing community problem solving, the use of intelligence-led policing, and enacting evidence-based strategies to abate crime. He will be a bridge builder for our community.”

Dr. Joel Fitzgerald, Sr., a 28-year law enforcement veteran, served the ten (10) years as a municipal police chief, and the first 2/3 of his career as a member of the City of Philadelphia Police Department.

Most recently, from 10/2015-5/2019, Fitzgerald served as the first African American Chief of Police of the City of Fort Worth Police Department, leading one of the largest departments in the country. Under his command, the FWPD became the largest state accredited (recognized) department in Texas, and proactively trained all officers in De-escalation, Procedural Justice, and Implicit Bias. As a major city, Fort Worth is the 12th largest city in the United States, with over 1,700 sworn officers and 500 civilian employees, enjoyed the largest crime rate decline among the top five (5) Texas cities.

In January of 2020, Fitzgerald accepted a position as Chief Deputy in the Philadelphia Office of the Sheriff, where he is responsible for all day-to-day operations in the largest Sheriff Department in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania serving over 1.6 million Philadelphia City/County residents in the 6th largest metropolitan area in the United States. 

“Waterloo is a passionate city! The residents and members of the Department (current and retired) impressed me by their sincere interest in the next person to lead Waterloo P.D.  In my conversations since the process ended with Mayor Hart, it became clear that integrity was high on his list of prerequisites, and he saw this as an opportunity to bring the department and community closer together with someone who has been tested, and who had success in other jurisdictions,” says Dr. Fitzgerald. “He (Hart) challenged me to be a part of his team, and after spending a few months away from traditional policing, I realized that my passion was still entrenched in helping departments advance culturally, by promoting procedural justice, building trust and legitimacy, and fighting crime.”

Fitzgerald was asked why he emphasized integrity, and he responded, “I live by and practice a saying, Integrity is everything in law enforcement. A man of integrity will not only do what is right, but despite the prospect of losing everything, willingly demonstrates fortitude when doing what is necessary-as purely a matter of principle.”

Pending City Council approval on April 20, Dr. Fitzgerald will assume the role as of June 1, 2020.

“I want to publicly thank Major Joe Leibold for his service in the interim as acting police chief. Major Leibold always rises to the call of duty with professionalism and magnanimousness,” says Hart. “Joe is a credit to the department.”

Questions can be directed to Lance Dunn, Director of Human Resources by calling 319-291-4303.