Could outspoken Sheriff doom Fort Myers referendum
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
The Lee County Sheriff is now at the center of a controversial ballot referendum.
Fort Myers voters will get a chance to decide if they want to dissolve the Fort Myers Police Department and have the Sheriff's Office take over.
Organizers fear the outspoken sheriff is now making the referendum about him and not the Police Department.
Mike Scott has not endorsed the referendum to have the FMPD absorbed by Lee SO and not commented on it either way.
According to Sheriff Scott he is still maintaining that position.
Anthony Thomas has been collecting signatures in support of the Sheriff's Office taking over the responsibilities of FMPD as a way to save taxpayers money.
"As we've been out talking to the minority community i think whats happen is the people are angry at the comments that the sheriff has been making recently." says Thomas.
First -- The sheriff criticized the NAACP for pushing Lee County to remove a portrait of Robert E. Lee from the commission chambers. Then -- he scolded FGCU President Wilson Bradshaw for allowing a concert featuring rap artists who degrade women and use the n-word in their lyrics.
Deborah Newson tells FOX 4 "his decisions... listening to him now... making some of the statements that he do... i think its just not fair whats hes saying."
Some supporters of the referendum believe the issue is about saving money but yet they fear comments from the Sheriff is jeopardizing the possible success of the referendum.
"My comments to which you refer were rooted in two primary concerns. The first is that I fail to understand how a portrait of Robert E. Lee in a county building is racially insensitive but someone spewing the n-word in a county park is not. To that end I was decrying the perpetuation of the n-word, the degradation of women, the promotion of drugs and violence, and the general glamorization of a gangster lifestyle. I would think that the folks to whom you refer would stand with me on that. The second concern was simply born of the fact that FGCU was planning a large, outdoor event in a county park and had not included the Sheriff’s Office in the preliminary discussions regarding security for same." says the Sheriff.
There are a group of people who don't seem to care one way or the other what the Sheriffs opinions are and they just want to keep things the way they are and believe in a system of checks and balances.
Based on comments, some in the Dunbar community tell us they are now not comfortable with Sheriff Scott taking over responsibilities for city law enforcement.
"Almost immediately upon taking office in 2004, I delivered the Dunbar Community Policing Annex and promoted the coalition of the LCSO and the FMPD on the corridor of MLK Blvd. Not once but twice in my eight years as Sheriff the NAACP has awarded me the highest recognition it offers for a law enforcement professional.
The Dunbar Community should be concerned with the fact that homicides have spiked to all time highs in recent years; not with their Sheriff who has twice been the proud recipient of the aforementioned award." says Sheriff Scott.
Voters will decide the consolidation issue in November.