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Fort Myers resident critical of Chief Diggs warns Columbus mayor of transparency issues

Fort Myers police Chief Derrick Diggs wants the top police job in Columbus, Ohio.

According to his resume, he’s selling himself as someone who builds trust and transparency while also improving community engagement with the police.

But his track record on transparency could hinder him.

And one outspoken Fort Myers resident is letting the mayor of Columbus know.

Henry Jackson, the father of Fort Myers police Officer Jason Jackson, emailed the mayor of Columbus to warn him of the 4-year scandal that kept his son off the force.

“My opinion is, it’s not a positive one,” Henry Jackson said.

WINK News requested an interview with Diggs, but he didn’t respond.

In a memo to police officers, Diggs said, “These are tumultuous times for law enforcement so being open to opportunities is just prudent professional practice.”

For years, Jackson has criticized Diggs and the Fort Myers Police Department for placing his son on administrative leave without revealing the reason why.

“A strong leader would go ahead would be able to face those tough questions,” Jackson said.

Jason Jackson was on paid administrative leave for four years until April 6 when the Fort Myers Police Department announced he would be back on duty after the conclusion of a federal investigation resulted in no criminal charges against the officer and three others who were placed on leave with him.

Jason, Melvin Perry, Michael Forbes and Rick Notaro were placed on leave Feb. 22, 2017, coinciding with the release of a months-long audit by the Freeh Group International Solutions that alleged possible corruption, lack of leadership, thinning resources and favoritism at the police department.

When Diggs arrived in Fort Myers in 2016, he told WINK News he wanted to bridge the gap between police and the community.

Diggs was hired as Fort Myers police chief in 2016. At the time, he signed a three-year contract with an annual base pay of $140,000.

In 2019, his contract was renewed for two years with a $42,000 pay bump. Diggs’ contract is set to expire in August.

On his resume, he claims he did that by “instituting change at every level of the department” and driving down crime by more than 50%.

“Chief Diggs is top-drawer,” said Fort Myers Councilman Liston Bochette. “He’s as good as they get. We’ve been blessed to have him here. The city is a safer city.”

Crime stats from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that.

And achievements like a real-time crime center, more officers on the job and better pay are markers of his success.

But when it comes to those words: trust and transparency, that depends on who you ask.

“I don’t think so If you ask the people out in the Dunbar community,” Henry Jackson said.

While Henry Jackson’s son is back on full-duty, and the federal investigation has concluded, Fort Myers police still won’t reveal the accusations that landed Jason Jackson on leave for four years.

Four pages of the Freeh report are still redacted.

“He destroyed four officers’ lives,” Henry Jackson said. “Their lives, their careers, without any evidence. What if he goes up there and does the same thing?”

Henry Jackson said he wasn’t trying to sabotage Diggs’ chances of getting the chief position at the Columbus Police Department.

“I’m just making the Mayor of Columbus aware of what happened down here,” Henry Jackson said. “Don’t start a fire here and then leave with the fire still burning and you’re going somewhere else.”

Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
Writer:Melissa Montoya
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