WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) - The city of Waterloo has a new police chief. Dr. Joel Fitzgerald, Sr. was sworn in at Monday's city council meeting.
Fitzgerald is the first African-American police chief in the history of the city. The city council unanimously approved Fitzgerald in April. He takes the position at a time when protests are taking place across the country over the death of an unarmed African-American, George Floyd, at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis.
"It's about accountability and leadership. And who, as police officers and people discharged with the duties with wearing a badge, a gun, and wearing a uniform every day, are we accountable to? Each and every one of you," Fitzgerald told KWWL.
Fitzgerald comes to Iowa after working as the county's chief deputy in Philadelphia. He also served as the first African-American police chief in Fort Worth, Texas. In May, he won his appeal against Fort Worth after the city said Fitzgerald was fired for "performance issues." A panel ruled Fitzgerald should be given an honorable discharge and not a general discharge.
Fitzgerald spoke to protesters Friday at Lincoln Park, saying that police must build a community's trust.
"This police department does not reflect what you've seen across the country," he said. "We're not to be the occupying force. We are the guardians in the community and should be seen as such."
Following his swearing in, Fitzgerald attended Monday night's protest at Lincoln Park, speaking directly with community members about their concerns.
Fitzgerald replaces Dan Trelka, who retired at the end of last year.
KWWL welcomes Chief Fitzgerald and his family to the community.