Every police department that has or is still providing services to a specific community has experienced ups and downs within its department. Unfortunately, some departments, such as the Fort Myers Police Department (FMPD), have been recognized for their “toxic culture” and corrupt ways rather than receiving commendation for the work its officers do. In 2016, the FMPD was placed at the center of an audit that aimed to determine whether “the ongoing accusations of racial discrimination and retaliation against officers who complained” were valid [Source: News-Press].
The audit resulted in the Freeh Group International Solutions producing a 72-page report. The Fort Myers City Council was responsible for hiring Freeh Group to conduct the audit that cost the City $150,000.
In the report, which was officially released in 2017, “outlined a toxic culture within the Fort Myers Police Department that prioritized maintaining “the illusion that the city was a safe place and that FMPD was effectively policing the city,” while doing little to combat a growing problem of gang and drug-related violence.” The consultants who were assigned to conduct the audit, were given “unfettered access to the department and all its members for several months” and it is during this time that they were able to determine the following about the FMPD:
- There was a strong sense of favoritism that “infected all aspects of FMPD.” This included “promotions, giving out assignments or training opportunities and handing down discipline.”
- Nearly every single person that was interviewed said that “there was a clique issue.” One person told a consultant that “you either were in or you were out.” Many of the employees found this to be a serious issue.
- “Preferential treatment in the promotion process led to an imbalance of experience.” The report showed that there were “too many people in leadership positions with experience in narcotics and not enough people with experience in homicides. Under-qualified leadership has created a “culture of failure and defeatism.”
- The FMPD went to great lengths just to “increase the Department’s reporting of statistical accomplishments.” Officers were often “directed to increase arrests and citations for minor infractions.” Hence, many individuals were thrown into jail for minor offenses while those who committed hard-core crimes weren’t being targeted.
- “Officers were directed to deal with the general public in a heavy-handed manner.”
- Officers were rarely ever reprimanded or even questioned about misconduct.
- The Department was not addressing citizen complaints stemming from harassment in the way in which they should have been, according to the report. This caused “aggravated tensions [to build] between police and the community.”
- The report highlights “the explosive revelation that a drug-trafficking network has operated with near impunity in Fort Myers, even killing witnesses.”
Aside from the findings the Freeh Group included in the 72-page report, the FMPD has also been recognized for police brutality and officer misconduct. Although the report did shed light on some major issues that were plaguing the FMPD, making the city a rather unsafe place to be, it helped to improve the environment within the Department. Still, there are officers that have been accused of applying excessive force or engaging in other corrupt behavior which means all the issues have not been resolved.
So, to answer the initial question, “does the FMPD have a history of misconduct?” The answer is yes, and it has proven to still be an issue for the Department. Therefore, if you are a victim of police brutality, meaning a Fort Myers officer harassed you, mistreated you, physically or sexually abused you, applied excessive force, etc., a Fort Myers, FL police brutality lawyer is the professional you need to contact. The attorneys at King Law are trained and qualified to help you stand up for your rights and combat the mistreatment you have been subjected to.
King Law is located at:
13410 Parker Commons Blvd., Suite 101E
Fort Myers, FL 33912