Two of the deadliest shootings in Fort Myers history took place before Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs took charge.
But the days of a department heading in a downward spiral are coming to an end, according to Diggs.
“Violent crime was something that had to be addressed right away and we worked hard to start doing that,” Diggs said. “Starting a gang unit, started a criminal intelligence unit.”
A report from the police department shows violent crimes decreased over the past year, including five fewer murders and 200 fewer aggravated assaults. But burglary, rape and theft cases all increased in 2017.
“We’ve got a theft problem that I think could be really addressed if people around the community would lock their car and practice basic crime prevention,” Diggs said.
While Diggs credits his staff, he said policing the community is a two-way street.
“We gotta continue to work hard in the community to demonstrate to them that they have a role to play in impacting crime in our community,” Diggs said.
For some residents like Tony Winstead, raising children in Fort Myers is easy when the community feels safer each year.
“We definitely need to keep our kids safe, keep the streets safe. So, whatever they can do by all means do it,” Winstead said.
Winstead said she felt a difference in the community after Diggs became the police chief and immediately started addressing local violent crimes.
“I actually lived around the Club Blu shooting,” Winstead said. “So, to see where it’s been since then, I think people are now more aware, they’re trying to come together more.”
Diggs plans to install high-tech crime fighting tools around the city that include a “shot spotter,” which can pinpoint where a gun fired within milliseconds.