Naples residents concerned about safety due to police officer shortage

There is an employee shortage in law enforcement. The Naples Police Department now has 12 vacancies, and people are starting to get antsy knowing that means 12 police officers aren’t protecting their streets.

Some of the safest streets in the country run through the affluent Naples community of Royal Harbor, but neighbors fear that could change as the Naples Police Department struggles to hire and retain officers.

“My wife works at the hospital she does a lot of night shifts. Do I have to wonder if she’s gonna make it home?” said Michael Rinaldi, who lives in Royal Harbor.

Rinaldi voiced his fear to city leaders last week. “Hardcore crime from the east coast is just a short drive away. And we kind of feel like we’re easy pickings so we need to get on top of this issue. I would make safety and security the priority.”

He’s not alone. Representatives from both Royal Harbor and Port Royal say the city needs to do more to keep people safe.

Donna Krall, president of the Royal Harbor Association said, “There should be no reason why the city is losing officers to neighboring law enforcement groups for better pay or benefits.”

Jenna Heiderman, the executive director of the Port Royal Association agrees. “We firmly appeal to the council to make what we feel is the obvious choice to fairly compensate our first responders.”

Naples Police Department Union President Jesse Granese said that can’t happen until the city raises salaries. “We are still a safe city, but how long will that last? If we continue to lose people?”

Interim City Manager Pete Dimaria hopes to avoid that. He is part of the ongoing negotiations with the police union. “We’re hopeful that we can at the end of the day, make sure that they’re compensated well. And make sure that they have the full benefits package that starts to not only retain our police officers, firefighters but recruit them.”

Negotiations will continue in early December, but the city manager believes that the meeting won’t be the last.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Matthew Seaver
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