Seventeen months before City Manager David Cooke flew on a private jet with Ed and Sasha Bass to Aspen, Colorado, the newly hired Fort Worth police chief flew with them to another state — Bentonville, Arkansas. 

Police Chief Neil Noakes was invited to join a team of “experts from various professions, members of the Bass family, and Bass Family Executive Protection Team on a one-day trip” to Bentonville in March 2021, according to Sgt. Amelia Heise with the department’s public relations office. 

The trip was work-related, Heise said, to learn about venues and other attractions being considered for replication in Fort Worth. Noakes was there to evaluate the public safety of those venues and identify possible security concerns that could arise if they were established in Fort Worth. 

“There was not a formal, written report; however, observations and opinions were shared with city leadership,” Heise wrote in an email.

Noakes was the only city staff member on the trip, Heise said, and this was the only time he’s flown with the Basses. Before traveling on the Bass jet, he received approval from his then-supervisor, Deputy City Manager Jay Chapa. Noakes came to Chapa to ask whether he or a designated officer should go on the trip.

“It was a learning thing, to see how Fort Worth is doing compared to Bentonville,” Chapa, who has since retired, said. 

Bentonville, the hometown of international retailer Walmart, has a population of about 52,000, according to 2020 census numbers. Fort Worth’s population is estimated to be a little over 900,000.

Cooke announced Noakes as the new chief of police in late January 2021 after former chief Ed Kraus retired. Noakes served as a deputy chief in the Fort Worth Police Department starting in 2019, and started with the department in 2000. 

Kraus now works as head of security for the Bass-owned Sundance Square. Chapa said it was Sundance Square security that asked Noakes to come along for the trip and emphasized it was for work, not fun.

“I thought it was a good opportunity since he had just started his job, to get a feel for the community and stakeholders,” Chapa said. 

When asked by the Report whether the city considered paying for separate transportation, Heise reiterated that it was a one-day trip and that the travel was approved by Chapa. The city did not discuss paying for separate travel accommodations for Noakes, Chapa said. It’s fairly common to share cars when going on work trips with city partners, he said, and this was no different. 

“I saw it more as saving city taxpayer dollars,” Chapa said. 

The public-private partnership between the police department and Sundance’s security team was reported previously when security saved a shooting victim’s life last year. Noakes told the Star-Telegram in August 2021 that “we train more together, we work more together, and I think that really shows in the way these officers saved that man’s life.”

Editor’s note: The headline was updated on Oct. 13 to be more specific about the ownership of the plane.

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Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or via Twitter.

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Emily WolfGovernment Accountability Reporter

Emily Wolf is a local government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Originally from Round Rock, Texas, she spent several years at the University of Missouri-Columbia majoring in investigative...