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FUTURE UNCLEAR: What's next for Citizens Police Review Board in Fort Myers

A new state law set to take effect in July prohibits citizens review boards from hearing complaints about law enforcement officers.
Posted at 6:03 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 18:03:38-04

On Tuesday Senior Reporter Ryan Kruger was in Ft Myers to there to see if the Citizens Police Review Board would hold its May meeting — but it turns out it was cancelled.

The board, which has existed since 2009, is made up of city residents who review complaints against Police Officers.

A new state law, set to take effect in July, prohibits boards from hearing complaints against police, and now the city is working to clarify the board's future.

“Based on this new law, it’s better to stop our ordinance, rescind it and come back with something new,” City Attorney Grant Alley said in a city council meeting last week.

The Fort Myers board was one of the first in the state.

Councilman Johnny Streets
Fort Myers City Councilman Johnny Streets served as a police officer and supports the existence of Citizens Review Boards.

However, since 2020 the number of review boards skyrocketed to more than 20.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, in signing the legislation, said too many of the boards had become political.

Councilman Johnny Streets, himself a former police officer, disagrees.

“I think that (the review board) was one of the greatest things we’ve ever accomplished in the city of Fort Myers,” said Streets.

Chief Jason Fields Fort Myers Police Chief May 6
Police Chief Jason Fields commented May 6 he's open to preserving some kind of citizens panel to continue working with police, following a state law effective July 1 that eliminates citizen panels created to hear police complaints.

Last week, the council passed a motion directing city leaders to workshop ways to keep the board in the future.

“I would be open to conversations to see how we could legally, lawfully, keep a board, a committee, something along those lines,” said Police Chief Jason Fields.