FORT MYERS, FLA — At Monday night's Fort Myers city council meeting, they came out in droves.
And one after another, whether silently or at the mic, dozens made their feelings about the Fort Myers Police Department (FMPD) clear.
"They saved my life. I did a 15-year prison sentence and it started by being arrested by the Fort Myers Police Department," said one man.
"These men and women have a relationship with the community," said another man.
This outpouring of support comes after a discussion to have the Lee County Sheriff's Office take over policing duties from FMPD.
"Basically, I got to thinking about it once it was announced that Chief Diggs was considering other employment," said councilman Fred Burson.
Policing expert, Walt Zalisko, tells FOX 4 that mergers that involve departments as big as FMPD typically cost more in the long run.
"The initial layout may light up a lightbulb and you say 'Hey we're gonna save 200-300 thousand dollars.' You've got to look at it down the road, 2 and 3 and 4 years down the road. Their salaries are gonna go up and their level of service is going to be expected to be better," said Zalisko.
Despite this, it's not the first time this conversation has come up in the city.
Back in 2013, the conversation made it all the way to the ballot but was voted down 68 percent to 31 percent.
But it was clear based on the words of the public who spoke Monday and by the sentiments of other council members that the discussion wouldn't go any further.
And it was eventually squashed.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's finished," said Burson.
And again, a big motivator behind this discussion was the fact that current Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs, is looking for a job somewhere else...
The city of Columbus, OH confirmed that Diggs is one of four final candidates competing for the role of police chief in their city.
Diggs and the other candidates will have to make their case to the community itself, during a virtual town hall this week.
And while it's looking more and more likely that Chief Diggs will be leaving Fort Myers soon, at least one councilperson said tonight that if he doesn't get the gig, Fort Myers should work to keep him.
That virtual town hall is set for this Wednesday from 6 pm to 7:30 pm.