A police union is adamant a former officer, who spent years on paid administrative leave, was terminated without cause from the Fort Myers Police Department.
Two weeks after Jason Jackson was fired, Fort Myers City Councilman Johnny Streets is also speaking up in his defense.
A Fort Myers Police Department internal affairs investigation found Jackson associated with convicted felons and had a sexual relationship with a confidential informant.
Streets said he still questions about the way Jackson’s case was handled.
The police union that represents Jackson has filed a grievance and believes he could still return to the force.
Streets said he has known the Jackson family for years and has been in touch with them since his termination.
“We don’t like what Jason did, but we still have to support Jason,” Streets said.
The internal affairs investigation raises claims of Jackson having sex while on the clock, selling police information to known criminals and seizing and selling illegal narcotics.
The investigation also includes interviews with 27 community members relating to Jackson’s alleged actions.
Fort Myers police Chief Derrick Diggs fired Jackson in November. That comes several months after the FBI decided not to pursue criminal charges against Jackson but did not say why.
Matt Sellers, the president of the Gulf Coast Police Benevolent Association, didn’t see the termination coming.
“I was pretty shocked,” Sellers said. “From the PBA’s perspective, his termination was not based on or supported by just cause. We clearly feel that he should be reinstated.”
Sellers points to language in the internal affairs investigation such as “speculation” and “rumors” as lacking hard evidence.
The PBA has asked for Jackson to “be reinstated as a police officer and be made whole for all wages, seniority and benefits that he’s lost” during the process.
“An officer is accused of something that isn’t supported by just cause,” Sellers said. “Essentially, just cause is evidence. There is not evidence that supports Jason Jackson’s termination.”
While acknowledging how serious the claims are against Jackson, Streets looks toward the leadership structure within the Fort Myers Police Department.
“Who was his supervisor? Who was watching after him? How were you allowed to do all this,” Streets said.
In a statement from the police department when the termination occurred, Diggs said, “This behavior is from a past chapter, and we have closed the book on that era of FMPD.”
The union said the case could eventually be tried in court, where witnesses would be forced to take the stand rather than speak with police behind closed doors.
“Clearly that’s part of the case that’ll be made. We can’t try this case in the news media, unfortunately. He’ll have his day,” Sellers said. “I’m hoping the Chief will resolve this before it gets that far.”
The union has filed a grievance against the decision to fire Jackson but that’s different than the appeal to get Jackson his job back.
The union expects the appeals process to take three to six months.
WINK News reached out to FMPD and Diggs for interviews as well as to Jackson and his family but did not hear back.