Fort Myers City Council explores police hiring grant

FORT MYERS, Fla. City Council is seeking more than $1 million for new police officers.

The council plans to submit an application for a federal “COPS” grant that would cover the salaries and benefits of new officers that would help the police department fulfill one of the recommendations in a scathing audit released earlier this year.

The audit, conducted by Freeh Group International Solutions LLC, a Delaware-based risk management firm hired by the city to review the department, suggested adding a “team approach” to the department, and having additional investigators assigned to homicide cases.

The city is working to add at least nine more officers, council member Terolyn Watson-Brown said. A buyout caused the city to lose experienced officers in 2008.

The police department is also adding substations, another Freeh report recommendation, in an effort to put its officers in closer contact with the community. It’s another step toward the goal of revamping the department, Watkins-Brown said.

“I can see that overall things are beginning to change,” she said. “It’s not gonna be overnight. This report had a lot of things in it, a lot of monetary things, but we as a city, we’re looking at those things and we’re progressively moving forward.”

The council was expected to discuss the grant application during a Monday afternoon meeting, but tabled the talk until later.

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

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