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Kevin S. Foster

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Sergeant Kevin S. Foster, Fort Worth Police Department (Ret.) is the co-author of Written in Blood: The History of Fort Worth's Fallen Lawmen, Volume 1, 1861-1909.

According to the book description of Written in Blood: The History of Fort Worth's Fallen Lawmen, Volume 1, 1861-1909, “Another line of duty death” is a chilling headline that serves as an obituary for too many “first responders.” In 2002 Fort Worth joined the ranks of other communities across the nation in building a memorial to its fallen heroes, an elaborate, million-dollar Police and Firefighters Memorial, dedicated in 2009, that recognized fifty-eight policemen going back to the city’s beginnings. Written in Blood is a more inclusive version of that idea because it covers more than just members of the Police Department; it is about the men from all branches of local law enforcement who died defending law and order in the early years: policemen, sheriffs, constables, “special officers,” and even a police commissioner. All were larger-than-life characters who took an oath to “preserve and protect” and therefore deserve to be remembered.

Richard F. Selcer and Kevin S. Foster tell the stories of thirteen of those early lawmen, starting with Tarrant County Sheriff John B. York in 1861 and going through Fort Worth Police Officer William “Ad” Campbell in 1909. York died in a street fight; Campbell was shot-gunned in the back while walking his beat in Hell’s Half-Acre. This is also the story of law enforcement in the days when an assortment of policemen and marshals, sheriffs and deputies, and special officers and constables held the line and sometimes crossed over it.

Co-authors Selcer and Foster bring academic credentials and “street cred” to the story, explaining how policemen got (and kept) their jobs, what “special officers” were, and the working relationship between the city marshal’s boys and the sheriff’s boys. The book is also a primer on court proceedings in the old days as it follows accused cop killers through the justice system. In some instances, the court cases were as fantastic as the crime itself. Each victim’s and perpetrator’s story is fleshed out with the details of his life, ultimate fate, and in some cases his descendants.

Written in Blood is not a paean to these thirteen men. They were not saints; they were real flesh-and-blood men: violent, sometimes racist, often carrying a chip on their shoulder. Most of them would not meet the strict professional standards required of officers today. None of the thirteen has ever had their full story told before now. They were men on the front lines of law enforcement at a time when the job did not come with health insurance or a retirement package. Selcer and Foster show the real men behind the badges, warts and all, leaving it to the reader to judge each officer’s place in history.”

Written in Blood: The History of Fort Worth's Fallen Lawmen, Volume 1, 1861-1909
Richard F. Selcer  More Info

About the Fort Worth Police Department
Fort Worth is located within North Central Texas.  In 1876, "Longhair" Jim Courtwright was given the difficult task of policing this roaring cowtown. With his reputation as a scout, a performer in Wild Bill Hickock's Wild West Show, and possessing a noted dexterity with firearms, Courtwright was able to give City Fathers what they wanted--a town where money and liquor flowed, but where bloodshed was cut to a trickle. It was under Courtwright that a "police force" was created--the authorization to fill two positions with men to assist him in his duties. A reputation went a long way in those days, and Courtwright's reputation with a gun was enough to make many men think twice before trying something that might draw the Marshal's attention. Reportedly as fast or faster than most famous gunmen of his time, Courtwright was able to reduce the number of killings in Fort Worth to less than at any time before or since”

Today the Fort Worth Police Department is broken down into six bureaus--Executive, North/West Field Operations, South/East Field Operations, Special Services, Operational Support, and Administrative Services--the work is then further split into more specialized units. Each unit within a division has a specialized area of expertise. The Fort Worth Police Department has 1,439 sworn personnel and approximately 362 non-sworn personnel. 

The patrol and general investigation functions of the Fort Worth Police Department are organized in four geographical divisions (north, south, etc.).  The specialized units of the Fort Worth Police Department include: K9, Mounted Patrol, Air Support, SWAT, Fugitive Unit, Gang Unit, School Security Initiative, Downtown Bike Patrol, and the Intelligence Unit. The Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team was first titled Tactical when the unit was established 1980. The primary function of the unit has always been to handle all Special Threat Situations involving barricaded subjects, sniper incidents, hostage situations, dignitary protection, and crowd control.

The secondary function of the unit is to assist other units within the department in the control of Part I offenses. This goal is addressed by the targeting of known criminals and affecting arrests for crimes in progress. Recently, another very important assignment was given to the SWAT Section. The unit is now responsible for training all sections of the Fort Worth Police Department in dynamic entry techniques for search warrant execution. The SWAT Section also provides other tactical training courses as needed.

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