The Fort Myers Police Department released their annual crime statistics, showing a significant drop in the city's violent crimes in 2017 compared to 2016.
The report shows that the number of murders dropped from fifteen in 2016, to ten in 2017 - a difference of 33.3%.
Aggravated assaults decreased from 716 in 2016, to 502 in 2017, a 29.9% difference. Overall crime dropped 4.9%.
"It's a never-ending process, but I think the statistics will show clearly that we're heading in the right direction," said Chief Derrick Diggs, who was hired to lead FMPD fifteen months ago.
"We've changed the culture of the department, how we do things internally," Diggs said. "We've promoted a new set of command officers."
"I'm inclined to go with their...beliefs," said Crystal Johnson, a new member of the community's Police Review Board. "But I know living in the neighborhood, it doesn't seem like crime is down."
Johnson said that an independent review last year by the Freeh Group - which found corruption and a toxic environment in the Fort Myers Police Department under previous chief Doug Baker - means that Diggs and his officers have a lot to prove.
"The only issue is, we have not gotten our answer from that Freeh report," Johnson said. So until we get those answers, there's no re-building that trust because (the department has) violated it, and no one has answered for that."
"We're not that same department of several years ago," Diggs said. "We're a different police department. The officers are very motivated. They're dedicated."
The new crime statistics indicate a slight increase in the number of robberies and thefts. Diggs said that he wants the community to recognize their role in preventing some of these crimes by always locking doors to their cars and homes.