Internal affairs investigation clears Fort Myers police official, but others call for outside investigation

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Melissa Montoya
Published: Updated:
Fort Myers Police Department (CREDIT: WINK News)

An internal affairs investigation into allegations that a Fort Myers police official wanted to hide the cost of a new police station has cleared the police official from wrongdoing after he was accused of ordering a subordinate to mislead city officials.

The 108-page internal affairs investigation into Major William Newhouse shows that every member of the command staff of the Fort Myers Police Department interpreted a conversation he had with a subordinate differently.

Donald Oswald, who until Friday was the inspector general (IG) for the police department, accused Newhouse of directing a lieutenant “not to mention the anticipated cost to anyone on the city council until after they spent the $36 million already budgeted and are in too deep to back out.”

Initially, it was estimated to cost the city $34 million to turn the old News-Press building at the corner of Fowler Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard into new police headquarters. But it’s almost doubled since then.

Oswald resigned because of the way the Newhouse internal affairs investigation was handled, he told WINK News.

The internal affairs investigation on Newhouse was unfounded.

“Usually in policing, people say the politics don’t play a role,” said David Thomas, professor of forensic studies at FGCU. “They play a major role.”

Thomas is also a former police officer.

Thomas reviewed the sworn statements made by the command staff in the internal affairs investigation.

He said he would have found the allegations unfounded as well.

Newhouse, Chief Derrick Diggs and Lt. Roger Valdivia maintained Newhouse did not give an order at all.

“This whole whatever allegation is totally out of context,” Diggs said, according to the investigation.

Deputy Chief Jeffrey Meyers wasn’t quite sure, but recalled Valdivia “perceived it as an order.”

And Oswald was positive it was an order.

And it was aggressive.

Against Oswald’s recommendation, Chief Diggs allowed Newhouse’s subordinate to conduct the investigation.

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