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FMPD Complaints Revealed

Citizen's review board helping to hold police accountable
Posted at 9:55 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 22:58:27-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — For Fort Myers City Councilman Johnny Streets Jr, the motto is simple, when it comes to oversight within the Fort Myers Police Department (FMPD).

"What we're seeking is truth, transparency, and justice," he said.

This comes after Monday night's data release from the Citizen's Police Review Board. Their job is to look over citizen complaints against the department and make sure officers are being held accountable when needed.

Streets Jr. is an acting liaison between the 15-year-old board and the city.

"We're looking for that relationship between police and community and we have to do those things and we're not trying to hide anything," he said.

FOX 4 got a copy of that data, it details public complaints dating back to January of 2020.

Of the 85 complaints in 2020, the most common was harassment. It was mentioned 49 times in the report, but each time it was determined that the officer's behavior either didn't violate FMPD policy or the claims were found to be unsubstantiated.

So far in 2021, there have been 8 of those complaints.

Other common complaints were linked to misuse of recording devices, poor conduct toward the public, or performance of duty. And in cases like those more often than not officers receive training or counseling. Though there have been several instances where officers were removed from duty or suspended from the job.

"But what I really look at is if it's the same officer and then where is this taking place at? Whether it's downtown, whether it's in a predominantly black community or where is this taking place?" said Streets Jr.

FOX 4 took a look at that too.

While there were a few repeat names, one officer's name came up six times throughout the course of 2020 for harassment, poor conduct with the public, and more. While most of the complaints didn't really go anywhere, the board did ask that he receive training on how to better communicate with civilians.

That officer's name came up three times so far in 2021 in regard to bias and in March the board noted that FMPD launched an administrative investigation There's no word on the results of that investigation as of yet.

Councilman Streets Jr. says he hopes the diligence of the board shows the community that they are working to investigate all claims.

"You will get a fair shake; you will get a fair hearing and if not that's why you have council people to make sure you are heard, and justice is done. Not "Just us." but justice," he said.

He also adds that the board may be close to obtaining "subpoena powers" which would give them more power to call witnesses to testify, during their investigations.

And Fort Myers PD isn't the only department with a review board.

Last summer, FOX 4 took a deeper dive into what these boards are and how many of our local law enforcement agencies have them.

We learned that in addition to FMPD, the Punta Gorda Police Department, the Collier County Sheriff's Office, and Naples Police Department all have advisory boards. The one in Naples has been around for 20 years.

The Cape Coral Police Department used to have a review board, from 2012-to-2014, but it was disbanded "due to a lack of action."

The Marco Island Police Department and the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office also don't have a review board. When it comes to the Lee County Sheriff's Office, we never got a response to our request.