There’s a new commander on this side of town: Cynthia O’Neil. LT. O’Neil has made community interaction her top goal.
Police work relies upon a sacred bond of trust between officers and their communities. Fort Worth Police Department’s visibility in the community exemplifies this trust, and breaks down the barriers that can exist in other cities between police and citizens. An example of this stance, the Neighborhood Patrol Officer program, places officer liaisons into area neighborhoods. These specially -designated officers help answer questions, provide assistance, and put a familiar, friendly face on FWPD. With the recent, further addition of division commanders, Fort Worth Police Department takes the next step forward into fine-tuned police work and neighborhood service. The addition of division commanders creates another layer of accountability for focused regions of the city. The latest West Division commander, Lieutenant Cynthia O’Neil, brings a wealth of experience into her new position.
“I’ve been in the department for 22 years,” says Lt. O’Neil. “I’ve worked all over in different capacities. In 2002, I became a detective for the western division. After my promotion to sergeant, I was later sent back to western as a patrol unit.”
Lieutenant O’Neil’s stint as sergeant came at the head of the Neighborhood Patrol Officer program. Over the course of several years, she became familiar with west Fort Worth and its people. Other moves followed, and O’Neil received another promotion to lieutenant in the Central Division.
“The time came, and chief needed to pick specific people for these commander positions he developed,” says Lt. O’Neil. “He asked if I wanted the job. I was thrilled, because now I’m in the position where I can make changes and do beneficial things for the community.”
Lieutenant O’Neil becomes the second female commander of the western division. She can add that distinction to her previous role as the first female mounted patrol patrol sergeant in Fort Worth. Along the way, she has served in internal affairs on two occasions, once as an investigator, and once as a supervisor.
“NPO and NPO sergeant were my favorite jobs,” says Lieutenant O’Neil. “You get to do the community work in addition to enforcement. That’s what makes me well-suited for this current position.”
An average day for the new captain comes with plenty of excitement. As commander over the patrol units, detectives, NPOs, and civilian employees, Lt. O’Neil wears plenty of hats. Most days additionally come with a special event or meeting.
“Last week I had meetings about the Como Fourth of July Parade,” says Lieutenant O’Neil. “We worked to make sure it had the security it needed.”
Weekday engagements could additionally include breakfast meetings, meet-and-greets, or attendance at functions for area organizations. Monday mornings get occupied with data, as a meeting down at Felix St. occurs with command staff and covers area crime.
“It’s a nice variety of things,” says Lieutenant O’Neil. “When I have a free afternoon, I’ll go down to patrol.”
A true sign of leadership comes from the enthusiastic engagement with challenges and goals. In this regard, Lieutenant O’Neil has also excelled, and stands ready with quick answer as the professionals areas that excite her.
“The citizen interaction, for sure,” says Lieutenant O’Neil. “There are so many different areas in the Western Division. Such a diverse area, from the commercial areas to residential. I’d like to come in and bring people together.”
Lieutenant O’Neil cites a recent experience in advocacy for the Como neighborhood in west Fort Worth. A meeting with city planners occurred to address a recent bond package. Other efforts at community engagement have helped encourage positive developments in the area. For Lieutenant O’Neil, this kind of work counts as the “fun stuff,” an opportunity to directly benefit the citizens under her protection.
To this day, even after so many years of experience in the community, it’s the people that continue to surprise Lieutenant O’Neil the most.
“People here still remember me from 10 years ago,” says Lieutenant O’Neil. “I didn’t think I’d made enough of an impact before.”
The closeness and fraternity of west Fort Worth have made a big expression on the new resident commander. As for advice for young ladies out to make an impact on the world, Lieutenant O’Neil offering the following:
“Mistakes aren’t the end of the world,” says Captain O’Neil. “They’re where you can improve from. Many young women will think that the things in front of them are the limit of what they can achieve. Don’t settle and think you can’t have something better. Anyone can do it, you just need to set your mind to the task.”