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Lee County NAACP presses City of Fort Myers for proof of crime rate

Posted at 3:05 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 20:27:01-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Lee County NAACP’s pressing the City of Fort Myers for more information regarding allegations of altered crime statistics.

On Friday, December 11th, the organization sent a “Request for Information” to Grant Alley, the city attorney of Fort Myers.

In the email, James Muwakkil, president of the organization, requested “any information regarding any investigation regarding falsifying information, in particular crime statistics by City Manager Saeed Kazemi, Former Assistant City Attorney Terry Cramer and anyone else that may be allegedly involved.”

FOX 4 spoke with Muwakkil on Friday.

He says City Manager Saeed Kazemi reached out to the Lee County NAACP for community support, after Mayor Kevin Anderson requested Kazemi’s resignation.

Muwakkil says that’s when he learned that statistics indicating a downward trend in crime from 2016 - 2019 could have been falsified.

While that claim has not been confirmed by FOX 4, Muwakkil says inaccurate data could negatively impact the Black community.

“It's very important to have accurate crime stats. African-American communities have the highest rate in Lee County. If those crime stats says that crime is down, then that gives residents a false sense of security and it opens the door to danger,” Muwakkil tells FOX 4.

The Lee County NAACP president took his concerns to the Fort Myers Police Department.

Muwakkil and the department say they met on Thursday.

FMPD presented details on how crime statistics are gathered, the outside agency used, and how that information is classified. The department also cited FDLE.

Muwakkil says he felt confident with FMPD's explanation and findings.

“They had no knowledge of crime stats being changed to make it look like crime was really lower than it actually was. So, we did the next best thing and sent a FOIA request to confirm one way or the other.”

FOX 4 reached out to city attorney Grant Alley for comment.

We have not heard back.

A spokesperson for the City of Fort Myers says there is no investigation into modifying or falsifying crime statistics.

But, Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson did say he has no knowledge of any wrongdoing or altering of crime statistics.

“I’m not aware of any active investigation and unaware of any proof that’s been supplied to support the allegations. Obviously if there is any wrong doing in this area, I will certainly support an investigation,” Anderson says.

But, Muwakkil says he wants proof that there has been no wrongdoing.

“We’re not hoping that the NAACP is right. We’re hoping that it comes back that it didn’t happen, and the crime stats are true. But if it is, we want to go to city council say ‘Do not let this type of activity go on behind your back.’”