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Hundreds gather to call for action on Fort Myers unsolved murder cases

Posted at 10:54 PM, Mar 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-29 07:02:38-04

Close to 800 people gathered at a Fort Myers Church to call for immediate action from city leaders to resolve over a 100 unsolved murder cases. 

Lee Interfaith for Empowerment or LIFE, a faith-based organization which aims to find remedies to social injustices, hosted the event at the St. Columbkille Catholic Church in Fort Myers Tuesday.

In the past the organization has partnered with the Lee County School district and Lee County officials to tackle issues of concern for residents. This year the organization focused on the number of unsolved homicide cases handled by the Fort Myers Police Department. 

"We asked members of our congregations a simple question every year: what keeps you up at night? what is it you worry about in our community? and we do listening events in all of our congregations," said Reverend Rusty May. 

An independent audit of the Fort Myers police department highlighted 32 critical issues which need to be addressed, including occurrences of corruption and a high number of unsolved cases. 

Police Chief Derrick Diggs told Fox 4 Now he has met with the faith-based organization twice already to discuss solutions to the issues plaguing the department. 

"No matter what people's feelings are about the police department we have to have positive relationships with the communities that we serve, and this group has indicated that they are going to support the efforts of the Fort Myers police department to help build those positive relationships," Chief Diggs said. 

He received a standing ovation at the event after agreeing to adopt a number of recommendations from LIFE to improve community relations. 

State Attorney Stephen B. Russell was also greeted with applause by the crowd for committing to facilitate joint-training sessions between prosecutors and investigators in hopes of providing more concrete investigations that can be prosecuted. 

LIFE has conducted their research on the Fort Myers Police Department and came up with areas of concern which overlapped with several of the issues brought up in the Freeh Group's audit. 

The organization's Vice President says he's confident city leaders will build trust with the community. 

"If murderers are not arrested and prosecuted that means they're still on the streets, and that puts everybody else at risk," said Dr. William Glover, Pastor of Mt. Hermon Ministries in Fort Myers.