NAACP talks change with Fort Myers, Cape Coral police departments

Credit: WINK News

The NAACP continues to press for change in law enforcement. This week’s focus was on the Fort Myers and Cape Coral police departments.

Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs is the only African American to run a law enforcement agency in Lee County, and he said the department isn’t where he wants to be when it comes to diversity.

Diggs made it clear: FMPD has been reforming since he took over in 2017.

“I was called here over four years ago because of poor leadership, corruption, favoritism. And so basically we started from the ground up,” Diggs said.

The chief said that under his direction, the department banned the use of chokeholds and knee holds.

“Let me make myself clear: You’re not going to find anything that’s being recommended as far as police procedures, proper police procedures, that the Fort Myers Police Department isn’t doing right now.”

But Diggs admitted that when it comes to representation and diversity, the department needs more.

“It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s a change in culture,” he said.

“We’re recruiting, we’re hiring, we’re promoting individuals not just of color but gender as well so that our department reflects the community.”

Cape Coral Police Chief David Newlan echoed that hope, confirming his department doesn’t have one African American on its command staff.

“We had to change some of our hiring practices and policies to help recruit other areas that we’re not normally tapping into,” he said.

Newlan made sure everyone understands that he won’t tolerate brutality.

“We do require officers to intervene if they’re witnessing something that’s being done improperly by another officer, use of force that could be excessive.”

Newlan said his department is reviewing policies to determine is there needs to be more de-escalation training for officers.

Diggs said he wants the community to know that Fort Myers isn’t like Atlanta or Minneapolis, that his officers don’t operate that way.

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