1 month following audit, FMPD executes 1 of 12 immediate recommendations

FORT MYERS, Fla. One month after the release of a scathing audit alleging corruption, inefficiency and other challenges within the Fort Myers Police Department, the agency has fully executed only one of the report’s 12 immediate recommendations.

“The vast majority of our officers perform their duties with integrity, bravery, and dedication to the safety of our citizens,” Chief Derrick Diggs said in a statement released Wednesday. “My focus right now is on moving forward and leading the way. The needs assessment is our road map for improvements to make our city better.”

The audit called on the department to request outside assistance to investigate the allegations of officer misconduct it identified. Chief Diggs has asked the U.S. Attorney’s Office to conduct a formal investigation into alleged instances where officers leaked search warrant information to drug dealers.

Below are the 11 other top recommendations from the report and their current status:

 

At present, the department is a “flat” organization. There are three captains who occupy the highest rung of leadership below the chief position. We would recommend the city hire two deputy chiefs on an interim basis. 

City council members unanimously approved funding for a deputy chief, a two-year contract position, along with two lieutenants. While the deputy chief has not been named, Diggs said he currently has two temporary deputy chiefs.

The department should hire a public information officer. 

The position has been posted and the interview process has started, the department said.

It is recommended that an employment law attorney be retained to review all policy changes and to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of current disciplinary policies.

The department has not said if this was started, in progress or completed.

It is recommended that preliminary assessments be defined and used as a tool to access and properly categorize allegations of officer misconduct.

The department has not said if this was started, in progress or completed.

The department should consider excluding the name of a complainant on the citizen response system memorandum to the city manager because the document could become a public document thereby creating potential security concerns for the complainant.

The department has not said if this was started, in progress or completed.

The department must find a safe location and mechanism for witnesses to communicate with detectives.

The department has not said if this was started, in progress or completed.

The department should ensure that the captain that serves as the commander of the investigations bureau is trusted and respected by officers and outside agency partners.

The department has not said if this was started, in progress or completed.

The department should consider reassigning all task forces and specialty units to the investigations bureau to ensure that intelligence is collected and provided to support investigations.

The department has not said if this was started, in progress or completed.

The department should consider consolidating task forces (SIG, VCTF and gang task force) in order to reprogram officers to support the road patrol mission, as well as the detective units.

The department has not said if this was started, in progress or completed.

The department needs to establish controls in order to ensure task force and specialty assignments are managed impartially and transparently.

The department has not said if this was started, in progress or completed.

Although the scope of this engagement did not include an assessment of the department’s use of force policies and procedures, officers within the department did request additional training regarding de-escalation techniques.

The department, in a statement, said it has “embarked on a strategic training and education program to educate officers and give them the tools they need to better perform their jobs,” but didn’t specify whether the training included de-escalation techniques.

The report listed 32 recommendations in total, separated within time frames of six months, one year and five years.

The department, in Wednesday’s statement, also detailed their efforts on some of the lower recommendations:

  • The report suggested re-establishing a substation in the Dunbar community. While the department said they were working on substations prior to the report, they did not say if Dunbar will be included. This was a six-month recommendation.
  • City council members approved funding for 24 laptops, docking stations and printers for detectives to use in their vehicles. This was a one-year recommendation.
  • The department has hired additional 911 operators and several new officers. While a five-year recommendation, the department did not detail the number of new personnel needed to be fully staffed and the study did not suggest ideal staffing levels.

This story is the latest in WINK News’ continuing series about the FMPD audit.

Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
LaurenWinkNews