By Elsa Maxey
“Since Joel is from that area, it was really no surprise that they would want him as their new chief,” Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen told the “Star” noting that its police chief is familiar with the east coast area and has family there. “With his experience and reputation, he was constantly being sought after by other cities. It was just a matter of time before the right offer was made,” he said.
On Wednesday, November 20, Missouri City’s Police Chief Joel F. Fitzgerald, Sr., 42, will have been confirmed as Allentown’s new Chief of Police replacing the recently retired police chief. That means he will start his new job in Pennsylvania in mid-December in a city that’s a bit larger than Missouri City with a population close to 120,000 as compared to Missouri City’s estimate of 70,000. Allentown’s mayor announced Fitzgerald’s nomination last week and upon hearing and confirming this account, the “Star” posted this breaking news on its website last week.
Fitzgerald has been the police chief in Missouri City for the past four and a half years overseeing a police task force numbering about 110, which had just about 80 officers when he joined. He assumed the post in April 2009, replacing former Police Chief Ron Echols, who had been with Missouri City’s police department for 28 years, leaving at the beginning of that year to become police chief in Live Oak, near San Antonio. Now retired Assistant Police Chief Pat Worrell served as chief in an interim capacity before Fitzgerald came on board.
Before taking the top law enforcement office in Missouri City, Fitzgerald was a lieutenant with the Philadelphia Police Department, where he rose through the ranks during his career there for about 18 years. In February 2010, Fitzgerald was a finalist for the police chief post in Corpus Christi, and later during the same year in October, he was named as a finalist for the police chief position in Bridgeport, where a report indicates he was queried about having applied for the job just after being police chief in Missouri City for less than two years. As per his response, the east coast appealed to him then, and apparently now, as well.
Mayor Owen said Fitzgerald brought innovative policing policies and procedures to Missouri City “that will continue with whomever we choose as his replacement.” Missouri City will soon begin that replacement process and the naming of an interim chief until the replacement is found, according to the mayor. “I wish Joel and his family the best and am grateful for the time he spent with us,” said Mayor Owen.