Fort Myers mayor speaks out about appointment of new FMP chief

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

The Fort Myers Police Department has a new leader, but some of the people tasked with hiring him think they may have been able to do better.

For months, Fort Myers City Council members had heated debates over who would be next to lead the police department.

On Monday night, they finally landed on a decision.

In a 6-1 vote, the Fort Myers City Council chose to hire from within and promote Jason Fields– everyone except councilman Johnny Streets. He was the only “no” vote.

Then, there’s Mayor Kevin Anderson.

He voted “yes,” but will always wonder what might have been.

Anderson knows the law, knows how a police department works, knows how a chief should run it.


For one, he’s the mayor. Two: he was an FMPD officer for 24 years who retired with the rank of major, just like Major Jason Fields, now Chief Jason Fields.

“I hired him,” Anderson said. “I was doing the hiring back when he was hired, and he was an impressive candidate.”

Impressive then and impressive now.

“I think he’s had a great career. He’s well rounded,” Anderson said.

But as well rounded as he may be, Fields was not the mayor’s top choice for chief.

Anderson did not like the way the city council handled the search. Though not required, council traditionally rubber stamps who the city manager wants.

That didn’t happen in this case. Last month, four council members voted no to the city manager’s suggestion and the mayor’s first choice, Reo Hatfield.

“In not approving him the first time? Yes, I do,” said Anderson when asked if the council made a mistake, “because he was highly qualified, and no one could give me a valid reason why he shouldn’t be the police chief.”

Anderson was asked if Hatfield would have been his top choice.

“Oh, yes, yes, and nothing to do with the internal candidates. I think they’re both highly qualified. I just think that Chief Hatfield was more qualified,” Anderson said.

After winning council’s approval, Fields made it clear: he knows he has big shoes to fill. Not Hatfield’s but the late Chief Diggs’.

“I’m gonna want to prove myself. I’m gonna make sure that I do the best to my abilities, and I hope that is infectious to the people around me,” Fields said.

Anderson said that he doesn’t doubt that for a second.

“Jason, I thought you were a great candidate as when you applied to be a police officer 20 some years ago. I think you’re a great candidate for the police chief’s job. I congratulate you, and I’m here to support you in any way I can,” Anderson said.

The mayor is ready, excited to see Chief Fields get down to business.

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