Former Toledo chief tapped to lead Fort Myers PD

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Former Toledo, Ohio, Police Chief Derrick Diggs, who was selected as Fort Myers’ next police chief on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Toledo Police Department)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – A six month search for the city’s next police chief has been whittled down from 115 applications to one: Derrick Diggs.

Diggs, who retired in 2014 as the police chief of Toledo, Ohio, was chosen due to his efforts in reducing the city’s crime by nearly 30 percent and his abilities in utilizing community-oriented policing, Fort Myers City Manager Saeed Kazemi wrote in an internal memo obtained by WINK News.

“A strong desire to succeed and high performance has been constant threads of Chief Diggs’ record of service,” Kazemi wrote. “With his superior knowledge, experience, and vision of accountability and goal orientation, the Fort Myers Police Department and the citizens of the City of Fort Myers will greatly benefit from Chief Diggs’ experience, ability and professional commitment as police chief.”

Diggs was selected out of eight finalists, including Interim Fort Myers Police Chief Dennis Eads and Fort Myers police Capt. Melvin Perry. Each attended a public meet and greet reception and panel interview on June 16. Diggs was one of six candidates that received at least one vote from the panel.

Each finalist was then interviewed individually by Kazemi.

“I’m relieved the process is over,” Eads said. “I contacted Chief Diggs to offer congrats, and to let him know that I look forward to working with him and supporting him with the time I have left at FMPD.”

Diggs’ hire, which must be approved by city council, is Kazemi’s biggest since becoming city manager in February. In identifying his top priority as reducing the city’s crime, Kazemi previously said the factors in his police chief selection will include “familiarity with the area, the type of city that we are, the demographic that we are, diversity that we are, and the type of crimes that I’m seeing here today.”

Kazemi, in his memo, highlighted Diggs’ usage of technology, including ORION (Observation Research Intelligence Operations Network), a data-driven policing project Diggs led in Toledo, and placing surveillance cameras in high crime areas.

Diggs said in a 2013 article that the data-driven effort helps to deter crime, improve officer response times and helps solve crimes. He credited the effort with a drop in burglaries and an increased number of solved homicides.

Diggs rose through the ranks in his 37-year career with Toledo police, becoming deputy chief of operations/support service and special enforcement in 2001 and deputy chief of investigations in 2009 before assuming the top job in 2011.

Diggs stepped down in Jan. 2014 due to “irreconcilable differences in policing philosophy” with then incoming Toledo Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins, according to news reports.

Diggs is expected to be introduced to Fort Myers city leaders during Thursday’s city council meeting. If confirmed, he will replace Doug Baker, who was fired in Aug. 2015 amid controversy following the wrongful arrest of NFL player Nate Allen.

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