Fort Worth to start dispatching police-free team to some calls

The first nine members of the Civilian Response Unit will respond to low-risk calls in marked cars

By Suzie Ziegler 

FORT WORTH, Texas — Fort Worth Police will soon dispatch civilians to some low-risk calls instead of sworn police officers. 

According to NBC 7, the first nine members of the new “Civilian Response Unit” will graduate Friday after six weeks of training at the police academy. 

The civilians will drive marked cars that say “Civilian Response” but the vehicles won’t look like squad cars, reports NBC 7. They’ll also wear different uniforms. The team will respond to some non-violent calls including abandoned cars, loose cattle, burglaries and credit card fraud. 

"We're not armed, we aren't going to have guns or anything like that but we are here to provide the best service,” said Vanessa Clementino, one of the new graduates. 

Lt. Chris Gorrie, who supervises the Civilian Response Unit, tells NBC 7 that the idea comes from last summer’s protests for police reform. 

"One of the things they asked for is not having a police officer to respond to calls that don't require a police officer,” said Gorrie. “So we decided to listen and to give this unit a try so they can respond to those low-level calls and leave us free to respond to the emergencies." 

The unit was trained in basic investigative techniques, like searching for fingerprints. They’ll also all be assigned ballistic vests, but Gorrie says they don’t plan to ever need them. 

"We're very clear on the fact they cannot go to a scene where a suspect could be present or could return,” Gorrie told NBC 7. 

To start, the team will work Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If the unit proves successful, Gorrie hopes to expand coverage to 24/7.

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