March 22, 2017
Since Chief Derrick Diggs took charge of the Fort Myers Police Department last summer, he has implemented several measures and programs commensurate with his goals for continuous improvement. Additional action steps have been implemented since the City-initiated Freeh Report was issued in February. To keep the community updated on the action steps focused on protecting and serving the citizens of Fort Myers, Chief Diggs will issue periodic reports. The following update has been issued as of March 22, 2017:
Outside Assistance to Investigate Misconduct Allegations
Chief Derrick Diggs has submitted an official request to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida to conduct an investigation into officer misconduct. Diggs’ invitation comes after a needs assessment recommended that the FMPD request outside assistance to investigate misconduct allegations.
On March 6, the Fort Myers City Council approved several measures that will help the Fort Myers Police Department achieve the immediate staffing objectives Chief Derrick Diggs has identified. The Council voted unanimously to create a Deputy Police Chief position and two additional Lieutenant positions. Chief Diggs had recommended the creation of the deputy chief position in response to the finding that the current four-captain management structure causes information to be isolated into four separate segments. The deputy chief position, inserted above captain, will improve communication and accountability within each bureau and will keep the Chief fully informed.
The report also stated that there needs to be more attention to supervision of investigative services within the Investigations Bureau, and internal affairs within the Professional Standards Bureau. Chief Diggs recommended the creation of two lieutenant positions to directly address and remediate those recommendations.
Based on the Chief’s request, the City Council approved the purchase of 24 laptops, docking stations and printers for use in police vehicles or for use by detectives. The needs assessment found that detectives currently have a desktop computer and are unable to access critical law enforcement information while on the road. The laptops and printers will allow the detectives access to information from their desks and in the field.
24/7 On Call Legal Services
In a separate item involving the FMPD, the Council approved on-call legal services for the police department, giving the department access to legal advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week for matters such as search and seizure, detention and arrests, and criminal and community policing.
New communication staff has already been hired to respond to 9-1-1 calls. It is anticipated that additional staffing will occur in the near future.
To improve officer and community safety, we have invested in and deployed 142 body cameras which are being used by the department.
FMPD has already hired several new officers and the recruiting process continues.
The Public Information Officer position has been posted and the interview process has begun.
FMPD has embarked on a strategic training and education program to educate officers and give them the tools they need to better perform their jobs.
The department had already started looking at locations for police substations before the report was issued, and an announcement is expected soon on the specific locations.
Well before the Freeh Report was released, Chief Diggs began the implementation of a community engagement program administered by outside consultants. This group has already made great progress and phase one of this initiative has been completed. Phase two of this initiative will begin within the next few months.
“We want to assure our citizens that our number one mission is to protect and serve the citizens of our City,” said Chief Diggs. “We are embracing the Freeh Report, and also going above and beyond that report, to see that this happens. It will not happen overnight. We have work to do and our community has to work together with the police department to get everything accomplished.”
Some of the FMPD accomplishments that have occurred since Chief Diggs started include:
*Crime has been decreasing compared to numbers at same time a year ago.
*Six mass shootings have been prevented
*More weapons have been confiscated than any other comparable time period
*The community engagement program is in place and already showing improvements.
Overall, FMPD has improved the safety of citizens in our neighborhoods and we will continue to do so.
“The vast majority of our officers perform their duties with integrity, bravery, and dedication to the safety of our citizens,” concluded Chief Diggs. “My focus right now is on moving forward and leading the way. The needs assessment is our roadmap for improvements to make our City better.”
Jay J. Rodriguez
Lieutenant, Special Operations Bureau
Fort Myers Police Department
2210 Widman Way
Fort Myers, Florida 33901