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Mixed reaction over downtown Fort Myers mobile surveillance unit

Posted at 8:42 PM, Aug 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-22 05:15:09-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It's been one week since Fort Myers police say Jasmine Battle shot someone in a downtown Fort Myers parking lot. The crime prompted a conversation between City Council members and police leaders. Ultimately, new safety measures were brought to the downtown corridor.

The biggest change you can see just by walking down Hendry Street between Second and Main — the Lee County Sheriff's Office mobile surveillance unit. One has a tower mounted at the top with cameras attached. Another has at least five cameras at every angle.

In a previous interview with Fox 4, Acting Police Chief Randall Pepitone said he believes the cameras could help deter violent crimes from happening.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Fort Myers Acting Police Chief discusses downtown safety adjustments

People downtown have mixed reactions about the eyes in the sky.

"I mean yes, to some extent. Your privacy is violated," said Leisa, visitng from Coconut Creek. "You feel like you’re constantly being watched, but in case anything does happen then there’s evidence."

Dennis Muchow, who comes downtown every two weeks, says he's happy they're up.

"If they know the cameras are here and know that it’s being recorded, I think it does have the power to prevent crimes from happening," he explained.

However, some don't see it that way.

"If something happens to you the cameras aren’t going to — it’ll capture it but it’s not gonna help you when in the moment when something happens," said Emma Buck.

They all had the same idea when it comes to additional safety measures they would like to see from the Fort Myers Police Department.

"They do have a police presence here, so I don’t know if they can add more of a police presence or not, if they have enough staff for that, sure," Muchow said.

Officers and cameras were already downtown before the shooting happened. It's not clear if more officers are going to be added this weekend, but the cameras are up and functioning. It's a move sparked by last Sunday's shooting.

"When you have a suspect that’s so brazen, that they’re going to fire at a victim within 30 yards of five officers that are on foot, you’re not gonna stop there," Pepitone told Fox 4.

City Councilman Johnny Streets brought a list of suggestions to police officials, one of those being checkpoints.

"I supposed it could be done, and if they tell us where the checkpoints are — we man them," Pepitone said.

Pepitone says there are some tactical policy changes in the works, but could not disclose what those are.