Fort Myers council members seek answers about suspended officers

FORT MYERS, Fla. City Council members are demanding answers about why a half-dozen city police officers were placed on paid administrative leave.

Five officers were sent on leave after the February release of a scathing audit that alleged misconduct and a lack of integrity throughout the department. It’s not clear whether the audit was the reason why they, and a sixth officer also put on leave, were taken off the beat.

“I sent a memo to meet with the chief, city manager, and the city attorney,” council member Johnny Streets said. “I have not been responded to at all.”

Streets made a motion during Monday’s council meeting to have City Manager Saeed Kazemi explain what happened to the officers and provide an update on the city’s response to the audit conducted by the Delaware-based risk management firm Freeh Group International Solutions LLC.

The council voted against that motion after Kazemi pleaded against the idea.

“Let us do our job and make sure that we know these officers … they need training, they need to know what’s going on and that’s what we are going to do,” Kazemi said. “I cannot agree. We need to move on and we need to train our officers.”

Kazemi’s response struck a hollow tone with Streets, who vowed to bring up the issue at every meeting until he gets an answer.

“When you talk about moving forward, you can’t move forward because you haven’t moved the obstacles out of the way,” Streets said.

Council member Terolyn Watson wondered aloud whether the officers are being singled out.

“Those six officers broke everything in that? It has to be some other officers that did some of those things the Freeh report talks about,” Watson said.

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