Jason Fields approved as new Fort Myers Police Chief

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After almost a year of uncertainty, the Fort Myers Police Department has a new chief.

It was a drama-filled decision, full of back-and-forth, but the Fort Myers City Council landed on FMPD’s very own Jason Fields, Monday night.

During Monday night’s meeting, city manager Marty Lawing tried to double down on his original recommendation, Reo Hatfield, who the council rejected back in June.

“I keep coming back to my original recommendation, so I’m requesting council appoint Reo Hatfield to police chief,” Lawing said.

But the majority of council members rejected that choice once again.


Because he wasn’t one of the original final six candidates.

“He was never in the six ones you brought forward,” said Terolyn Watson, from the Fort Myers City Council.

For the sake of compromise, the city manager recommended FMPD’s acting major Jason Fields, which the council approved with a vote of 6 to 1.

Fields said he’s got big shoes to fill, but he’s honored to be chosen.

“Just, you know, surprise, shocked,” Fields said. “I got to kind of take it in right now, but I’m humbled, ready for it and looking forward to the opportunity.”

Interim Chief Randall Pepitone’s retirement

Unexpectedly, the city’s urgency was elevated during the city council meeting due to the standing of the current interim chief.

It has been a year since late police chief Derrick Diggs left the Fort Myers Police Department after falling ill. Interim chief Randall Pepitone has been in charge ever since.

But Pepitone has been in law enforcement for more than 40 years, and city council announced Monday night that he only has a couple of weeks left on the job.

“Chief Pepitone has notified me formally that he is officially retiring on Aug. 2, so we’ve got a target date to shoot for,” Lawing said.

Pepitone was brought on by former Chief Derrick Diggs after the two worked together for decades in Ohio. He has been with FMPD since May 2017.

City leaders commended the way he ran the department for the last year under challenging circumstances.

“Interim chief is an awkward role in that there’s situations that you can’t make and decisions you shouldn’t make,” Lawing said. “That being considered, Chief Pepitone has done a great job.”

It’s worth noting that multiple city council members discussed the positive changes the late Chief Diggs implemented during his time in Fort Myers. With Fields being awarded the chief job, Pepitone will now have a brief window to help that transition.

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