Names released of 155 applicants to be the next Fort Myers Police Chief

Reporter: Peter Fleischer Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

The City of Fort Myers has released the names of 155 applicants for the position of Fort Myers Police Chief.

The list will be narrowed down to around 10 applicants before those people are interviewed.

The process of naming the next police chief could take some time, but the department is moving forward with the list of 155 applicants.

The full list of applicants can be seen below.

The last police chief for the Fort Myers Police Department was Chief Derrick Diggs, who died on Feb. 15.

There’s no denying Chief Diggs’ success at FMPD. Crime dropped despite the city’s population growing and the downtown area was revitalized. Now, more than 150 applicants will compete to take over the role, a welcome sight for former officer and current Mayor Kevin Anderson.

“Fort Myers is a very attractive place, and the Fort Myers Police Department is a respected agency that all of these people want to lead,” Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson said.

Interim Chief Randal Pepitone was Diggs’ right-hand man, coming to Fort Myers after working with Diggs for decades in Toledo. He’s run the department since last July when Diggs first took medical leave. His name is notably not on the list of applicants to take over the Chief role.

“I’m retiring pretty soon,” Pepitone explains. “I hope the department continues on the path that Chief set them on.”

However, four of the top six members of FMPD command staff have thrown their hats in the ring.

“The four candidates internally, I was doing the recruiting and hiring when they were hired,” Anderson says happily. “So of course, I’m thrilled to see those four candidates.”

The Fort Myers job has attracted candidates from the west coast, to Canada, and back down to Florida. Whether the next Chief comes from inside the department or thousands of miles away, a former officer and City Councilmember Johnny Streets want the entire Fort Myers community to have a say.

“We want to make sure that the process is transparent,” Streets says. “We want to make sure the community is involved, business people, again everybody needs to be involved.”

Whoever becomes the next Chief will win the job through a very competitive process. WINK News dug through all 150+ applicants. More than 30 are law enforcement pros right here in Florida. 13 candidates are female, while more than 40 have some kind of police chief experience.

Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson wouldn’t confirm what kind of experience matters most but admitted it’s a factor.

“It could be Chief experience, it could be Deputy Chief,” Anderson speculated. “It really all depends on the depth of the experience.”

Several candidates are from larger departments, including a handful from the Miami area. Councilmember Lin Bochette says that kind of background is appealing.

“Someone who’s calm, steady. Has been in a larger city than ours, it’s not their first rodeo,” Bochette says.

Anderson tells WINK, the city has already started to trim down its list, cutting out more than 90 percent of applicants. City leaders estimate about 30 days before presenting three to four candidates to the city council publicly but making the cuts is easier said than done.

“They’re struggling! Because these are such quality and high caliber candidates,” Anderson says.

Despite the rough estimate, an exact timeline isn’t coming any time soon.

Councilmember Johnny Streets – who also served at FMPD – says the city holds the police Chief as one of the most crucial spots in local leadership.

“This ranks among the highest, the best for our people. So we want to make sure the process is transparent,” Streets assures. “We want to make sure the community is involved.”

“We would like to get this matter resolved as quickly as possible but we’re not going to rush it,” Anderson agrees. “We want to make sure when we make a decision, it’s the right decision.”

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