Chief of Police

Chief of Police and Emergency Management

Dr. Joel Fitzgerald Sr. is RTD’s Chief of Police and Emergency Management, a role that carries primary responsibility for customer safety and security across the eight counties and 40 cities of the Denver Metro region in which RTD operates. He joined the agency on Aug. 22, 2022, following a nationwide search.

Fitzgerald holds three decades of law enforcement experience and previously served as police chief in four U.S. cities. He was born in Philadelphia and earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Villanova University, a master’s in business administration from Eastern University and a Ph.D. in business administration from Northcentral University.

Fitzgerald began his career in policing in 1992 with the Philadelphia Police Department and served in various ranks over 17 years. In 2009, Fitzgerald was selected as Chief of Police in Missouri City, Texas, a suburb of Houston. He was Chief of Police in Allentown, Pennsylvania, from 2013 through 2015, and Chief of Police in Fort Worth, Texas, from 2015 through 2019. Fitzgerald joined the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office as Chief Deputy in January 2020 and was most recently appointed Chief of Police in Waterloo, Iowa, in May 2020.

In each of the four positions where he served as police chief, Fitzgerald’s selection was the result of a competitive national search, and each of the appointments made him the first African American to serve in that rank in the history of each organization.

Fitzgerald has been a member of professional associations that include the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He is a graduate of Harvard University’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program, the FBI National Executive Institute, Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff & Command, and PERF’s Senior Management in Policing program.

In 2019, Fitzgerald became an elected member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Law Enforcement Executive Development Association Board, for which he now serves as Second Vice President. Joel and his wife, Pauline, a Special Crimes-Homicide Detective for the Tarrant County (Texas) Office of the Criminal District Attorney, have three children, one of whom is a police officer in Philadelphia.

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Chief of Police Media Event - August 2022