Fort Myers police engagement meetings seek to curb tension

Published: Updated:

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Fort Myers police heard from dozens of people who voiced concerns Thursday about the relationship between law enforcement and the community at a public forum at the Dr. Carrie Robinson Center in Dunbar.

New Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs began the first of two “community engagement” meetings by acknowledging the national unrest surrounding officer-involved shootings.

“Some very bad things are happening in some of the cities across this country,” Diggs said. “And so the basic answer is why are we here? We’re here to make sure those things don’t happen in the good city of Fort Myers.”

Diggs said he’s aware there’s a significant mistrust of police even though he’s only been on the job since Aug. 15.

A downtown gathering of about 100 business owners and community leaders earlier Thursday addressed many of the same topics. Diggs recruited Dr. Morris Jenkins and Dr. Saleem Hylton, two nationally recognized consultants, to listen as some attendees expressed their frustrations with Fort Myers Police.

“I get tired of being pulled over by the by city of Fort Myers Police Department,” said Lorna Washington, owner of Put Them First Academy, a daycare in Fort Myers. “And when we get pulled over in some communities … there’s like three, four, five cars show up. That’s intimidating as a single woman.”

Others, like Fort Myers City Councilman Forrest Banks, believe people should simply comply with police.

“Our young people, I don’t care what color they are, what sex they are, how old they are, where they came from or what their political beliefs are, if a law enforcement officer tells you to do something, do it,” Banks said.

City officials took notes during the forum to review and create solutions to implement changes.

The informal community discussions will continue tomorrow at the Doctor Carrie Robinson Center on Edison Avenue from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.