Chief of police, Jersey Village
For the past two years, Eric Foerster has performed his duties to a growing population as chief of police for Jersey Village. However, his career in law enforcement spans nearly two decades.
Nearly 21 years ago, Foerster turned his interest in flying into a career as a commercial pilot. He would often give a trooper with the Department of Public Safety a ride in his plane to provide photos for accident scenes. This eventually piqued Foerster’s interest in law enforcement, leading him to enlist in a weekend police academy sponsored by Dallas Baptist University.
Upon graduation, Foerster worked for a year as a reserve officer before moving to Marshall Creek, a small town near Fort Worth where he worked as a patrol officer. He was promoted to corporal and then assistant chief. Foerster worked in several positions in San Angelo for 11 years along with patrol duties at Abilene Christian University before accepting his first job as chief of police in Colorado City.
Foerster held a second position as chief of police in Vidor for two years before transferring to the City of Jersey Village Police Department as chief in 2010.
What is a police chief’s most important role within the department?
The most important role is in the development and staffing of a department that places the safety and security of the public above all else.
What have been your top priorities in your first two years as chief of police?
[My top priorities have been] the development of a long-term plan to guide our agency over the next three years, the implementation of objective-led and proactive policing efforts, the implementation of special software to enhance our productivity, the creation of two new lieutenant positions, increasing the responsibility of command staff [and] increasing in-house training.
Having worked as the chief of police in various cities, what can you say makes Jersey Village a distinctive place to work and live?
There is clearly a vested interest from our City Council, mayor, city manager and the entire staff to make Jersey Village the premier place to live and work. The amount of support the entire city and staff gives the Jersey Village police is fantastic, and it is felt by all of our officers within the department.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments as police chief?
The implementation of objective-led policing within Jersey Village. I say this because I have seen a marked improvement in the way our officers approach their jobs. They have now been empowered to become problem solvers, and they are given the tools and flexibility to think and work outside the box to accomplish tasks. This concept has truly made a strong impact within our community, and the remarks from our citizens have been extremely positive.
What are come of the challenges, or benefits, of leading Jersey Village?
The Hwy. 290 expansion will cause some interesting issues to develop over the course of construction. The issues here in Jersey Village are the same as felt by other law enforcement entities within northwest Harris County: growth and traffic. We have a rapid influx of people in and around the area. One of the biggest benefits of working in Jersey Village is the fiscal responsibility demonstrated by the city staff and governing body. We are a financially healthy city because of wise spending practices. Our rewards are the fact we have not had to lay off people in trying economic times, and we have not had to curtail patrol procedures in any manner. This makes my job as chief much easier.
Have there been any changes within the department to help solve crime as the Jersey Village population continues to rise?
The main changes have been in the fundamental mindset of the officers and raising accountability. We have changed over to objective-led policing, meaning certain objectives are to be met on every shift, and we have targeted specific problems within the community. I believe strongly in letting the officers seek solutions to problems they see within the community. This empowers officers with a strong sense of ownership. Also, new electronic messages will be handled by email or text. Our main goals now are to improve the level and quality of service that we currently provide to the resident of Jersey Village.
What are some of the more prevalent criminal issues facing Jersey Village?
Right now, the main increase in criminal activity is in theft and burglary. I forsee traffic to be an ongoing problem just in relation to the increase in population in the areas around us.
In what ways do you try and engage
I am present at most city events, and I actually patrol the city and make arrests and write citations. We also hold special events that provide access to our department for our citizens, and I try to return phone calls on the day they are received. I also teach portions of the citizens police academy and other programs.
In what ways does the Jersey Village Police Department work with other departments around the city, and why is this cooperation important?
Jersey Village has participated with several zero tolerance events with the county and with DWI crackdowns with the district attorney’s office. There are many staff members who are association members who bring us into contact with other agencies. We also have a liaison position with the Secret Service that is actively staffed with one of our detectives. Because the Jersey Village police department is situated in a major metropolitan area, it tends to make [the department] work with other agencies out of necessity. All of the fellow agencies within the greater Harris County area seem to work well together because of this geographic need.