Mayor to Sheriff: Give Us Two Free Deputies

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The discussion over whether or not Fort Myers Beach should pay for two Lee County Sheriff’s deputies from the LCSO community policing program became heated Thursday night. And when Mayor Ray Murphy spoke up, things turned a little odd.

Council members Jim Atterholt and Dan Allers are in favor of spending the $224,000 for two deputies. Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros and councilman Bill Veach are opposed. They would rather any additional public safety funds be spent on cameras.

In July, the Public Safety Committee voted 6-0 in favor of the Town Council budgeting for at least two Lee County Sheriff Community Police Officers. Committee member Jim Knickle, a former police officer, believes 4 community police officers should be hired.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Department schedules two regular deputies to Fort Myers Beach. That number increases during busy weekends, holidays and Spring Break.

It was clear that whether or not the officers would be hired fell to Mayor Ray Murphy. And that’s when it turned odd.

The Mayor said he would be in favor of hiring the two community police officers if the Lee County Sheriff’s Department threw in two more. In other words, he believes Fort Myers Beach should get four officers for the price of two. “I’m of the mind that if we’re going to go with community policing, they (the sheriff) raise the minimum to four. Give us two more deputies down here and we’ll take the community service. See what the Sheriff thinks about that. That will give us a few more deputies down here, then we’ve got something.”

Then Murphy questioned how the community policing program was run. “We have no idea what’s going on with it. We don’t know how it’s going to be controlled. They don’t report to us. They report to the sheriff. Who controls these guys? Who sets the program? There are a lot of unknowns to me. If the sheriff wants us to buy into this community policing then give us a few more deputies. Then we can really work with them.” He said the sheriff should put more skin in the game.

Murphy then criticized Lee County, stating the new road (Estero Boulevard) created a super-highway with cars speeding up and down the road all day long.

The Mayor went on to say the the Lee County Sheriff’s Department was pushing the deputies on him. “I know when I’m being sold something.”

Bonita Beach currently has 14 community police officers and two detectives and, as far as we know, they don’t get any deputies thrown in for free. And, for the record, the Fort Myers Beach fire department does not report to the town council either. They report directly to an elected fire board.

Even though there are now three council members against hiring the community police officers, the money for the two officers is in the tentative 2021-2022 budget. There is one more public hearing on the budget, on September 16th at 5PM, before it’s voted on.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Kind of unrelated, but not totally. Is this the same council that’s considering restricting vacation rentals and limiting second homes? In an effort to make housing more affordable for the people who work on the island, are they considering the impact on the top line budget? People that have second homes in FMB already pay higher property taxes, and vacation rental owners pay more in registration fees, licensing fees, sales taxes, and tourism taxes.

  2. Mayor Murphy is correct in stating he has no idea. And that’s about anything at all. He has no damn clue. This town deserves better public servants. You all do know you can have them removed from office. Worried about a turtle more than your safety is that in the towns best interest? When you are locked up in your house here in the beach and don’t go anywhere like the council does then it looks pretty good from their view. Spend a day or two just sitting and watching the homeless and the traffic. Who’s speeding!! Traffic doesn’t even move. Give me a break.

  3. Why not take a look at Sanibel. They have their own police force.
    Public health, safety and welfare is governments primary responsibility.

  4. Bull Veach is in the well it doesn’t happen on my block approach, told me personally that I choose to live in the north side, so it is to be expected! What a joke, Veach and Rex ha e become consistent with each vote, maybe they talk to each other behind our backs. But yet Veach’s pet project on flowers continues to get funding! They only care about what’s pretty and heartfelt! Well, then walk the square at night Bull, Rex. Leave to comfort of your house and block and actually spend the time to actually see it for yourself. Just because you’re elected doesn’t mean you get to play God! When are petitions due and who wants to back me to run for the council.
    Let’s vote this sick way of thinking out of office.

  5. This is definitely disturbing.I guess the blood of next victims will be on their hands for recognizing the need of 4 deputies .But acting like this is a flea market BOGO deal??
    So yall would rather play hardball with the Sheriff and delay having this program in place by season than provide the island with more protection?
    And WTF you dont know how it works??
    This has been discussed for months,do your due diligence prior to our hearings.

  6. Throw in 2 more? Maybe we’ll only pay the mayor and the other 2 righthand men are free? I think Fort Myers Beach can afford 4 officers. You’ve wasted so much money on Estero Blvd and now Margaritaville. What is the demographics of your town? I know…..and they need protection! You’ve had so many issues happening in the last 5 years, that people will quit coming. Too many shootings, homelessness, murders, etc. i think it’s time you look to protect your residents and your big money maker…….visitors! Soon your beach will be ran by riff raft that will get out of control real quick. Look at the world we’re in. All has happened in 9 months. Then there will be NO fixing it then. People will leave your town and not look back.

  7. The town where I live, 2,000 people. We have a police department. A chief, two full timers, a school cop, and a couple part timers. Plus we host one of state police branches.

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