FORT MYERS, Fla.- A group of private citizens have formed the Fort Myers Police Foundation, with a goal to provide moral and financial support for FMPD.
Larry Romano is the president of the 9-member board, looking to add two more members. He is basing it off a similar foundation he was a part of for a police department in New York.
He says, "this is not a political, no affiliation with any political party. This is strictly to create another form or avenue for police to get things that will enhance them doing their job. To form a bond between the police and the community. The police do a heck of a job and we need to show them we appreciate them and this was the real reason for doing it. There's nothing personal about it, just giving back to the community."
While the timing comes just weeks before Fort Myers residents will vote whether to consolidate the police department with the sheriff's office, Romano says he's been working on forming the foundation for about a year. He says it takes time to file the proper paperwork to become a 501(c)3 organization. "We started this a year ago, long before any idea of a vote coming up. Our idea was to support our local police department. We wouldn't be going through all of this and all the work we put into this, if we wanted to see it disbanded."
He says it's all about supporting those who protect and serve. "When something happens, you really find out these guys stick their neck out everyday. Let's face it, when I went to work I knew I was coming home at night, these guys don't and I think that's the motivation behind most of us."
Sgt. Sean Hoover with Fort Myers Police is the liaison to the foundation. He says it will be a huge asset to help fill gaps in the budget. "Things have gotten tighter and the budget isn't as high as it used to be and things are harder to come by," he says. "We're always in need of new or updated equipment and training for that matter, anything that can help us to our job to keep the community safer is our number one goal. There's some enforcement opportunities we're missing with the lack of some tint meters, there's some equipment that's outdated that we can't replace anymore such as our tasers."
He says it's a great partnership with the community. "You have an avenue that members of the community can get involved and give back to the police department. At the same time, they're giving back to themselves and the rest of the community by providing equipment or training that will provide a safer environment for everyone."
The foundation hopes to hold a golf tournament next year.