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Fort Myers police releases departments policies

Posted at 9:30 PM, Oct 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-30 22:28:23-04

FORT MYERS, Fla — Police policies is a topic that we've heard a lot about over the summer following the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others.

FOX 4 decided to dive deeper into the topic.

We requested information about policing policies from local departments in our area, and after a few months, the Fort Myers Police Department had released its policies online for free.

"Our job is serving the community," FMPD Accreditation Manager Randy Jones says.

The deoartment says serving the community through transparency was the thinking behind the recent release of its policies.

"We want the community to understand the regulations that govern our actions and how our officers are supposed to operate," Jones says.

The department said it has been discussing this release for years.

Previous public records request for the document would have set you back about $16,000.

But now it lives on the FMPD website for free.

FOX 4 also spoke to local lawyer Peter Dennis to get his thoughts on the release.

"As a first step, it's encouraging," Dennis says.

Florida Gulf Coast University Forensics Studies Professor Dave Thomas says this is a good move.

"They deserve kudos because it's relevant," Thomas says.

Following a summer where multiple deadly police encounters gained national attention, Dennis says it's a document everyone should read.

"It's our opportunity to be able to hold our law enforcement agencies to the standards they hold themselves to," Dennis says.

One area that stands out the most in the policy document is the "use of force" section.

It outlines a dozen scenarios and spells out what kind of force FMPD officers can and can't use.

It also says what officers should do if they see a fellow officer do something wrong.

FMPD says these are scenarios officers face every day and decisions they have to make quickly.

"It's a lot. It's a lot to process in microseconds," Jones says.

Thomas is a former police officer, and he says the need to make good decisions quickly is why thorough training should be consistent for officers across the county.

"What happens is if the training is not up to date. And it is not done a lot where it is repetitive, and it becomes second nature," Thomas says.

"What happens ultimately in this process is you see officers doing things they shouldn't do."