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TCU Police Chief Robert Rangel, Fort Worth Fire Chief Jim Davis and Fort Worth Police Chief Neil Noakes

In 2023, Texas Christian University, the Fort Worth Police Department and the Fort Worth Fire Department are all turning 150. While triplets might be a strong word, the three entities are absolutely a kinship. 

“It’s almost like a family. We reach out for support anytime we need it, and that works both ways. They reach out to us as well,” said TCU Police Chief Robert Rangel. “There’s an expectation here, that if we’re needed, the answer is yes.”  

The relationship is a two-way street.  

“When TCU calls, we do everything we can to say yes,” said Fort Worth Police Chief Neil Noakes ’19 MS. “It’s a great partnership and so mutually beneficial. And it’s not just because it’s TCU, it’s because of what TCU represents to this city, and it’s in the name of public safety for everyone on this campus and in the surrounding area. We know that everything we do for TCU is going to help Fort Worth, and everything we do in Fort Worth is going to help TCU.”  

Growing up together 

TCU began 150 years ago in Thorp Spring, Texas, and didn’t settle in Fort Worth until it sought a new home in 1910. The Fort Worth Police Department was established in 1873 with a city marshal and four officers. The Fort Worth Fire Department also experienced humble beginnings when it was organized the same year as a volunteer fire brigade with little funds or equipment.   

“When you think about it, TCU has grown up with the city, and the city has grown up with TCU,” said Fort Worth Fire Chief Jim Davis. Through time and geography, the two have become intertwined. “With a police issue, a fire or EMS issue, there’s easy overlap. Having TCU Police is beneficial, obviously, to the students here but also to the residents on the periphery, and it’s the same with the Fort Worth departments.”

The community connection was on full display in 2019 when one of six new Fort Worth fire trucks placed into service was striped in purple and painted with the words “Fire Frogs.” It’s quite a picture of the dedication.

“Parents sending their student away for the first time can know that their student has more than an authority figure, but also a mentor, and they have the ability to reach out for any public safety need to make sure their kids are safe and taken care of and given the best opportunity to succeed,” Davis said.

Any given Saturday 

Needs arise with daily activity and events and become even more apparent on major occasions such as move-in days and commencement ceremonies. One of the biggest partnerships is most certainly football game day. 

police on gamedayAt any home game at Amon G. Carter Stadium, about 200 Fort Worth police officers are present to help with needs from traffic to emergency support, including officers from SWAT and the Department of Homeland Security. 

“It would be an impossible task to do on our own,” Rangel said. “We are the envy of many other universities who have to go far and wide just to get bodies to work these games. From the fire department side, the single biggest issue we have with public safety is the heat. In our first game this year, for instance, the calls due to heat were nonstop.”  

Davis said that the key to success is advanced planning for these major events.   

“There is a lot of cooperation, collaboration and communication that goes into a successful event, and nobody can do it alone,” Davis said.  

Noakes had the opportunity to witness game day operations firsthand from his early days as a Fort Worth police officer working the TCU neighborhood in the early 2000s.  

“I was at Frog Alley and Stadium Drive for most of it,” Noakes recalled. “It was really cool to get to get to know the people at TCU and see the culture on campus, and that impressed me. Over the years, as I was promoted up through the ranks, I was able to supervise some of the officers in the area and started seeing the scale, and it was massive. When I made lieutenant, I was being trained to take over the organizing of all of it. That’s when I really saw the magnitude.” 

fire trucksThe emergency responders have also become some of TCU’s biggest cheerleaders. This year, Fort Worth Fire called TCU asking if they could help with a sendoff for the football team departing for the College Football Playoff National Championship. And when TCU Baseball made the College World Series, they were there again.

Times of trouble 

The units are truly there in good times and in bad. Be it a weather event, a threat to campus, an emergency on campus or something off campus that involves a member of the TCU community, the three chiefs tout the ongoing relationship as the key to navigating the incidents successfully.  

“If anything comes up, it’s simply just a matter of who might call the other one first. Because one of us is going to make that call,” Noakes said. “In my 23 years, I’ve seen firsthand the relationship that we have, and it’s pretty amazing. Specifically with the police, the majority of the officers at TCU PD are retired Fort Worth PD, and we always say, ‘once you’re Fort Worth PD family, you’re always Fort Worth PD family.’” 

Additionally, Rangel said, TCU security officers include retired Fort Worth Fire personnel.  

“I cannot overstate the importance of our relationship. The personal relationships we have – the first name basis – is truly valuable,” Rangel said. 

With shared alumni personnel and shared backgrounds and experiences, also comes training and operational similarities, which help greatly in providing smooth tactics and seamless transitions during emergencies, the team said.  

“We share patrols, we share intelligence, but our relationship helps us focus on prevention,” Noakes said.  

“Fortunately,” Davis said, “crisis events are the exception and not the rule. But with our relationship, we’re prepared when they occur, and we’re able to deal with them immediately and then follow up to discuss and plan what we need to do for the future.”  

The next 150 years 

That future undoubtedly includes growth – growth of TCU and its campus and growth of the city of Fort Worth.  

“If you look at the immediate area off campus, it’s a sign of what’s to come,” Davis said.  

Davis said he believes one of the biggest opportunities is collaborating on managing future housing solutions, both on and off campus, to create the safest environment for students. Other collaboration opportunities include partnerships that go beyond law enforcement.  

For instance, Fort Worth Fire currently works directly with TCU Nursing on a simulation program, and the Fort Worth Police Department recently spoke to the football team, promoting a relationship. He said they hope to pursue that idea with more TCU teams.   

“I see a lot of opportunity for partnership with the city and the university,” Noakes said. 

Fort Worth PD is committed to future-focused programs that encourage innovative ideas in law enforcement, like TCU’s Leadership, Executive & Administrative Development (LEAD) program, of which there are currently 12 Fort Worth officers who are graduates. TCU also has ties to Fort Worth Police’s Operation Progress, which empowers underserved youth to become educated, ethical and productive adults.  

“It has been amazing the way TCU has stepped up to contribute, with some of them attending football games and things like that,” Noakes said. “None of our kids in the program now are old enough to be in college yet, but they will be soon, and we know TCU will be there to support them.”  

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