Community Outreach Center coming to Bell Tower Shops

To improve your safety, the Sheriff’s Office is about to be a lot more visible in Lee County shopping center.

A resource will be opening in the Bell Tower shops which allows an expanded presence by LCSO in an area where lots of people hangout.

This change comes a year after two people were murdered in the same shopping center parking lot.

The sheriff’s office opened the first “Community Outreach Center” in June at the Miromar outlets in Estero, and it has been a big success.

Parents say they already feel better knowing there is a deputy right around the corner at all times when inside the shopping center.

“For us, as parents coming here in the morning before the mall is open you have that extra sense of security and even in the evenings too…I think I think it’s a really cool thing,” said Megan Swanson.

The one at Bell Tower will serve as the hub for LCSO’s Reunite Program, which helps to find missing and endangered people.

The sheriff’s office will also use it for community events and public safety programs.

Florida Gulf Coast University expert, Dr. David Thomas says the community policing will accomplish two things if done right. It will build trust between law enforcement and the public, which in turn will help solve crimes.

“If it’s done properly it should have a direct impact on crime. The one thing that the public needs to understand is that police cannot solve crimes by themselves and I don’t care if an agency says they’re crime fighters, they have these great numbers, they have this impact.. Without community help and community assistance in that partnership then you’re lost,” said Dr. Thomas.

The grand opening at Bell Tower starts at 11 a.m. Wednesday morning in the courtyard net to the United Way office, and is open to everyone.

Reporter:Andrea Henderson
Writer:Lincoln Saunders
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