Letter details second request for feds to investigate FMPD

FORT MYERS, Fla. Alleged civil rights violations by the Fort Myers Police Department outlined in a scathing audit has prompted Fort Myers City Manager Saeed Kazemi to request a Department of Justice investigation into the agency, according to a letter obtained by WINK News.

It is the second time city leaders have formally requested a federal agency to investigate the department.

The latest request, outlined in a letter sent on Monday to Tom Wheeler, who oversees the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, followed City Councilwoman Terolyn Watson’s intention to request the same through a roll-call vote during Monday’s city council meeting.

City council members voted unanimously for Watson’s request, which came after the letter was sent.

The letter specifically mentioned three of the 32 recommendations outlined in the audit, released in February, that alleged cronyism, misconduct and other issues related to the department’s inability to solve crimes:

  • Recommendation 1: Request outside assistance to investigate alleged officer misconduct. The report, which was based off of more than 200 interviews of current and former employees, mentioned officers were leaking search warrant details to drug dealers.
  • Recommendation 12: Additional training regarding de-escalation techniques. Such is needed due to the departments’ high percentage of “relatively” inexperienced officers, the level of violent crime, an increase in gang activity and a “significant” number of citizens living with mental illness. Kazemi’s letter did state the department is attempting to secure de-escalation training from the DOJ.
  • Recommendation 22: partner with county, state and federal agencies to use federal laws targeting large-scale drug traffickers (Continuing Criminal Enterprise Statute) and organized crime (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act).

Kazemi’s letter followed a request by Police Chief Derrick Diggs in March for the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate the alleged misconduct regarding search warrants. That request has been granted, the letter said.

It was not immediately known if the DOJ will grant Kazemi’s request.

Below is the full letter:

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