Community can help create Fort Myers Police Diversity Training

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LEE COUNTY, Fla.- The Fort Myers Police Department is changing the way it trains officers, and you get to have a say in it.

The department is taking unprecedented steps to get the community involved in diversity training. FMPD is working on a new diversity and sensitivity training program. What makes it unique, is that it will be created based on input from residents in the area.

Back in October 2014, 5-year-old Andrew Faust Jr. was killed when bullets hit his Fort Myers home. It took police 14 days to arrest his suspected killers, because of a lack of cooperation from those living in the area.

Pastor William Glover says that’s unacceptable.

“It was apparent that there was a need to improve the relationship between the Fort Myers Police Department and minority communities.”

Glover has teamed up with Chief Doug Baker to find out how both the community and police can be better.

“For people who live in the community, there’s a real sense that minority communities are policed differently,” said Pastor Glover.

“The pastors will also have the responsibility of discussing what deficiencies there are in the community of how they treat law enforcement once they arrive to a scene. So it’s just not one-sided,” said Chief Doug Baker.

They will do so using focus groups.

“Not only we will have focus groups with the community, we will have focus groups with law enforcement as well,” said Pastor Glover.

“I did not want a cookie cutter training. I wanted something as it related to local issues. I want to know what goes on here, and how do we correct it,” said Chief Baker.

Everything they learn will be used to develop a new diversity and sensitivity training program for officers to use in upcoming years.

“At the end of the day, the citizens have to be happy with the response of how we respond to crime, ” said Chief Doug Baker.

“Both sides want safe communities, that’s the bottom line,” said Pastor Glover.

Lee Memorial Hospital is helping with the program, lending their diversity specialist to help draw up the program.

Community leaders met on Monday. The next step is to continue meeting, and set up focus groups.

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