FMPD participating in nationwide law enforcement study

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Fort Myers Police Department

FORT MYERS, Fla.- The Fort Myers Police Department is going under the microscope while researchers from California look into the agency as part of a nationwide study of police on the streets.

The Center for Policing Equity, affiliated with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) will be looking in part for evidence of racial bias and excessive use of force.

Researchers will have access to police records on stops of vehicles and pedestrians, and use of force.

Fort Myers Police Chief Dennis Eads says he’s confident the study will be objective.

“You have a neutral, third party look at it. They don’t have any goal other than this is what it is. This is what happened, these are the numbers,” said Eads.

“Fort Myers has opted into that to get a picture of what they look like compared to the rest of the nation, and how they can identify, where, and if, they have problems,” said Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff with the Center for Policing Equity.

The center worked with police in Ferguson, Missouri after an officer shot and killed Michael Brown, and riots broke out. Researchers have also studied police in big cities with large minority populations.

Citizens have different opinions about the study.

“Like with companies, you have to have someone come in and check the books every now and then,” said Herbert Herring.

“My nature would be to be somewhat suspicious,” said Frank Candella. “I have reservations and concerns about where they are taking this.”

During the study, officers will be asked to send comments to an anonymous online site, to assess the climate in the agency. The center will then judge how the department is doing in meeting its mission.

“The positives: if we’re doing something good, we want to know how we can do it better.If we’re doing something poorly, or something negative, we want their recommendations on how we can turn it around,” said Eads.

The study will be completed at no cost to the city of Fort Myers. It will take three years to complete.

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