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FMPD says protests have been peaceful; mobile team ready to keep it that way

George Floyd protests in many big cities have turned violent, including in Washington D.C. But protests in Southwest Florida have been peaceful.

We spoke to Fort Myers Police Department Monday about what it takes to keep protests peaceful and everyone involved safe.

The last few days, there have been some protests in the City of Fort Myers. But FMPD is ready to be on the job in case there is any civil disobedience. From equipment to less-than-lethal weapons, the training occurs all the time.

But first on the list of priorities is listening to the protesters.

“They’ll just reach out to us,” said FMPD Lt. Roger Valdivia. “They’ll let us know what they want to do, what they want to accomplish. Mainly to stress the fact they want to remain peaceful. And they just want their voices to be heard. And we understand that.”

Valdavia is the commander of the FMPD mobile field force team. The team’s job is to maintain peace during any protests.

“Fortunately, the citizens have been respectful,” Valdivia said. “They have been peaceful.”

And Valdavia says they have been “smart.”

Their message is being heard, not overshadowed by violence and destruction.

“We do have specific training,” Valdivia said. “We do have a specific group of individuals, officers that are trained just for civil type of disturbances.”

And, again, what’s critical is communication between officers.

“Specific training on movements, hand signals, tactics, things like that,” Valdivia said.

Valdavia is aware more protests are planned, and his mobile field force team will be there.

“Absolutely, there should be no doubt in their minds that we are prepared to do whatever we have to do to maintain their safety,” Valdivia said.

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Reporter:Rich Kolko
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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