Fort Myers mayor to lead violent crime task force

Published: Updated:

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Fort Myers City Council met Thursday night to pass a new budget, but recent violence in the city dominated the conversation.

“Our budget evening has been overshadowed by this. It’s troubling,” said Mayor Randy Henderson.

With seven people shot in a seven hour period Wednesday, council members offered their suggestions to interim police Chief Dennis Eads.

“I think we need to surge as many law enforcement forces into our community as possible,” said council member Tom Leonardo.

Leonardo sent a memo out Thursday morning calling for the National Guard to be called in. At Thursday’s budget meeting, council member Teresa Watkins-Brown supported that proposal. Mayor Henderson said it’s not necessary.

Henderson said curbing the violence is a top priority and will be leading a new task force to tackle the issue.

“I’m very much looking forward to pursuing this assertively. I want to emerge out of this task force experience with a better understanding of the resources we have to deploy, and I want to know specifically how we’re going to get these guys off our streets. I am confident in that,” Henderson told WINK News.

Henderson says the task force will include the city manager, high ranking local law enforcement officials, as well as state and local politicians. He says he’s already reached out to Congressman Curt Clawson and will be personally calling Governor Rick Scott.

Council member Michael Flanders brought a little reality to the discussion.

“We cannot provide 100% of the solution to eradicate violent crimes. We can do a lot, but we cannot provide the complete solution,” said Flanders.

Council member Johnny Streets says radical times call for radical measures, even if fighting crime means making police officers work seven days a week.

“If that’s what’s needed. It’s the same thing if we’re having a hurricane, we cancel officers off days,” Streets told WINK News.

We asked him if he thinks the recent shootings are comparable to a hurricane.

“No, but it’s a crime wave, you know you have a tropical wave and a crime wave. Which one would you rather be in? I would rather be in the tropical wave.”

The City Council passed a budget Thursday that includes a $200,000 reduction in overtime paid to police officers. Streets said the budget can always be amended.

The budget also includes funding to add nine more police officers to the force.


Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.