Hosafros: Bonita Set a Bad Precedent


Residents in Bonita Springs that felt safe on Memorial Day may disagree with that statement. While she said she’s a big supporter of the Lee County Sheriff’s Department, Fort Myers Beach Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros doesn’t believe Community Policing is something Fort Myers Beach residents should have to foot the bill for. And she thinks Bonita, which has 14 Community Police officers, has put Fort Myers Beach in a bad spot.

Hosafros told LCSO West District Captain Tim Lalor she has real reservations about the Community Policing program, which councilman Jim Atterholt and Dan Allers have been pushing hard for.

Hosafros told Lalor on Wednesday that the Community Policing program is not the right way to fund things. “You are a part of Lee County. Lee County should be providing you more resources to give all parts of Lee County adequate Sheriff services.”

Hosafros said she wanted to see what the budgets for the Sheriff have been over the years. “Are they adequately funding you so that communities don’t have to come forward and help you out.” The most recent budget document on the LCSO website showed a proposed 2020/2021 budget of nearly $198 million and over 1,000 certified officers.

Lalor told the council members on Wednesday at their Management & Planning meeting that the community policing program has been in place in Bonita for several years and is very successful. He said it’s a more of an enhanced program to dive into the issues constituents have. “This helps us dive more into things like the noise ordinance, or the transients, or a special traffic concern.” Hosafros then cut Lalor off and said, “Those are your duties everywhere all the time. And if you aren’t providing those, you need to get more funding from the county is the way that I see it.”

Hosafros said what Bonita did by initiating the community policing program is start a bad precedent and we’re being asked to build on that bad precedent. “Bonita should have gotten together with us and other communities and gone to the Lee County Commissioners to tell them the Sheriff isn’t being provided adequate resources to address what we have as concerns.”

Bonita Springs launched its community policing program over a decade ago. In addition to regular coverage provided by LCSO, Bonita has 14 community police officers from LCSO and two detectives. District 2 City of Bonita Council member Jesse Purdon is a big proponent of the program. He tells BTRN that the budget for Bonita’s community police force is now $1.82 million. Bonita Springs has a population of 65,000 people. Watch this video about community policing in Bonita Springs.

There’s a substation in downtown Bonita directly across the street from Riverside Park. Anyone can walk in and file a report. Two secretaries staff the office at all times. The mission of community policing is to combat crime and preserve quality of life issues.

Fort Myers Beach Councilman Bill Veach called community policing back-door funding that masks the under-funding going on at the county level. He called it being more reactive rather than proactive.

Hosafros added I’m not questioning what the Lee County Sheriff’s Department does, “I’m just questioning the way you do it.”

Veach also floated the possibility of paying for additional police coverage through alcohol sales, which sounded like he was proposing some sort of tax but he did not elaborate.

Dan Allers said we have to stop pointing the finger at others. Our BASE patrol was not equipped to handle Memorial Day. And, he said, he doesn’t think 2 officers will be enough. He thinks more than two is what will be needed.


  1. You want to incorporate into your own town? That includes being a police force. Otherwise, give it back to the county if you don’t want to properly run it.

  2. We have had lcso on our street several times in the recent past. They always tell us the same thing. They are not allowed to enforfce “local” ordinances. They can only enforce state and county ordinaces.
    I came from a town with 843 residential units and we had our own police department of 15 officers. The total cost to the residents was about $2 million/year. There are 9,500 residential units (not counting hotel rooms) on this island. If we didn’t charge the hotels anything it would amount to less than $200.00/ residential unit to have our own police force. by charging real estate tax on hotels, bars, and shops the cost per resident would drop even further and we would have policing that would be accountable to the residents. if so many other small toens in America can afford their own police we can too.

  3. And oh by the way…… might be time for a couple of business owners to start paying attention to the nonsense going around your shops!! I love free enterprise, but you can’t turn a blind eye

  4. A town of 7000 people cannot afford a separate police force on top of the county sheriff’s office. I don’t understand why I pay taxes to the county and are then expected to pay for proper police services. I believe Lee county has 1000 sheriff’s. A few can’t be assigned to the island, why not?

  5. I am dead set against creating our own Police Dept., but I would be in favor of contracting 2 Lee County Sheriffs that would work full time, in addition to the officers already assigned to the beach. I believe the costs are approx. 113,000.00 per officer, having our own City of Ft Myers Beach officers would be in the millions. We are only 7000 people compared to other cities ex Bonita 68,000 residents.

  6. Definitely need police protection and assistance. We need to really be more diligent in questioning our candidates before they are elected and then hold them accountable. Once elected they seem to run with their personal agenda when they are actually there to do what we the people want.

  7. Instead of our town focusing on unnecessary spending & new renovations of Time square & other locations, safety should come first! “What, make all these renovations for NO ONE to come if safety is a priority on FMB.. it doesn’t look good!
    Use the budget for policing and making residence, vacationers and businesses safe 1st!!
    With Margaritaville coming and more people is very exciting & We would all love everything to look fresh & new in Time Square and other places on this island too… BUT Come on get your priorities straight Our safety on this island is lacking.
    I 100% agree with Dan quit pointing fingers👍
    Just Do something, quit procrastinating and be proactive, bottom line we need more law enforcement on this island to keep people’s mind at ease & a safer Community definitely Nights, weekends, holiday’s & special events when more foot traffic occurs. Again safety should come first, it shouldn’t even be a long elaborate thought-out process, Just make it happen.

  8. Agree with Dan. We need our own police force. Marco, Sanibel, Bonita all have them. Forget begging Lee County and let’s control our own destiny before it’s out of control


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