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City leaders debate who police inspector general should report to

Posted at 6:51 PM, Nov 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-04 18:51:21-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Council members agree the Fort Myers Police Department’s new inspector general position is beneficial to reviewing the police department. But they’re divided on who the position should report to. Some said Monday the inspector general should review the department independent from the chief, while others said Chief Derrick Diggs is the right person to report to.

The new role started a week ago and requires a review of the department’s disciplinary procedures under Chief Diggs’ direction.

Councilman Fred Burson said Diggs wants to stop misconduct within the department

“Chief Diggs has been very diligent about getting there and rooting out problems. So, I don’t think that he would hinder the inspector general at all,” he said.

But Councilman Kevin Anderson said separating the inspector general position from the department as he reviews it paints a better picture for the public. Especially since it’s the department he works for.

“There is an appearance of a conflict, whether it’s true or not,” he said. “I do think that this position could very well better serve the community if it was independent of the police department.”

Councilman Johnny Streets agrees.

“A lot is resting on this. Our transparency. Not only in the police department, but in our local government,’ he said. “Just let him start brand new without any, you know, pressure, to do what a particular person wants him to do.”

Instead Streets thinks he should report to the city manager or council members. He said he should review city departments outside of the police, too. Streets motioned to discuss changing who the inspector general reports to in the October 21 council meeting, but failed to get approval from his colleagues…including Burson.

“I just didn’t think it was appropriate to discuss something this important with only half the board there,” said Burson.

FMPD said they’re simply taking advice from the Free Group which audited the department back in 2017. In a statement to Fox 4, FMPD said:

“The position of Inspector General (IG) resulted from a direct recommendation from the Freeh Group. The Freeh Group recommended the IG report directly to the Chief of Police to advise on such matters as investigation of and administration of discipline, public relations, community outreach, recruitment, retention, training, quality control and leadership development.”

Anderson said council members may share different perspectives, but have the same goal in mind.

“At the end of the day, I think we all want the same thing. And that is accountability,” he said.

Burson said if council moves forward on changing the inspector general’s reporting assignment, voters could have the final say in who he reports to.