NAACP, Fort Myers Police work to build trust

Chief: Changes won't happen overnight
Posted at 11:21 PM, Jun 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-27 06:41:35-04

Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs and the NAACP are still dealing with the fallout of the Freeh report, which outlined lots of corruption in the department.

The chief says correcting those wrongs won’t happen overnight.  “We’re getting there, but it’s going to take time.”

Chief Diggs told NAACP leaders at a forum Monday night that changes to department policies are still being made in light of a report that detailed corruption, favoritism and racial discrimination within the department.

Since being hired a year ago, Diggs has instituted racial sensitivity and use of force training for his officers. “They will treat people with courtesy and respect in every encounter they have with citizens.”

Some community members say more officers are needed in neighborhoods that have been neglected such as Dunbar.

Leroy Adams says officers need to fight crime on the front end, rather than responding after the fact. “Take off the uniforms, get out there and learn who you are going to be interacting with on the daily, especially if you didn’t grow up in the community,”  said Adams.

Diggs says he’s making it easier for residents to file complaints with the department, and he’s getting his officers out to more community events.

But for Adams, the distrust between the black community and law enforcement won’t go away overnight.

“It’s a problem, it’s one that we have to work one within ourselves, but it’s going to take an effort from local law enforcement.”

NAACP officials say they would like to see Walmart, Wells Fargo and other local businesses open up locations in Dunbar, they believe that would help increase employment opportunities and drive out crime in the neighborhood.