Dr. Joel Fitzgerald was born in SW Philadelphia, PA, in 1971, and was educated at the historic Overbrook High School. He attended Villanova University, where he graduated with a Baccalaureate Degree (B.A.) Liberal Arts. He continued his education at Eastern University, where he earned a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree, and in 2013, earned a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Business Administration at Northcentral University.
His law enforcement career began in 1992, when he joined the City of Philadelphia Police Department, where he served in various ranks before his selection to serve as Chief of Police in Missouri City, TX (2009). In 2013, he returned to PA, becoming Chief of Police in the City of Allentown, where he served until 2015. From 2015-2019, Dr. Fitzgerald served as Chief of Police of the Fort Worth, TX-Police Department, leading over 2,200 employees in the 13th largest agency in the US. Under Chief Fitzgerald’s command, the FWPD became the largest state accredited ("recognized") department in TX and became one of six pilot cities chosen for the National Initiative for Building Community, Truth & Justice, a DOJ funded national program, facilitated by John Jay University. The National Initiative charged member agencies to examine policies, and to develop evidence-based strategies to measure effects of training and reconciliation on reducing implicit bias and enhancing procedural justice among the cities. In 2020, he joined the City/County of Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office as Chief Deputy, the largest Sheriff’s Office in the Commonwealth of PA. While serving in that capacity, Fitzgerald reorganized deployment strategies, department operations, administration, training, professional standards, and software systems.
In each position, Joel was instrumental in those agencies becoming benchmarks for jurisdictions seeking to promote community problem solving, the use of relational policing, and enacting evidence-based strategies to abate crime. He became a catalyst for change in organizational cultures and service delivery models that invest in the sanctity of life and other tenets of 21st Century Policing over ineffective less inclusive, reactionary service models.
Dr. Fitzgerald has been a member of the Major Cities Chiefs’ Association, the Police Executive Research Forum, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, NAACP, and is a graduate of the Harvard University Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program. He completed the FBI National Academy-National Executive Institute, the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command, and the Police Executive Research Forum Senior Mangement In Policing (SMIP) Program. In May 2019, Dr. Fitzgerald was elected to serve as a member of the FBI LEEDA Executive Board.
Joel and his wife Pauline have three children, one of which who proudly serves in law enforcement, and five beautiful grandchildren.