Paying more for Sheriff
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Jul. 17, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla.- Its the number one topic of conversation at neighborhood watch programs in Fort Myers.
Do you want the city's police force to be absorbed by the Lee County Sheriff's Office?
Living in Lee County... you are guaranteed a level of service and attention from the sheriff's office.
But Bonita Springs residents decided they wanted to pay for "additional" deputies to watch over them.
Ken Paszek owns and runs Benson's grocery in downtown Bonita Springs.
Before the city incorporated in 2000 and got an upgrade in service from the sheriff's office, things didn't look so good.
Paszek said "for a time we heard people say that they were afraid to be in the area because of the crime."
But not anymore.
The city hammered out a contract with the sheriff's office.
At the time, Bonita Springs was getting three deputies to patrol the area... but the city council wanted more.
Now, for 1.6 million dollars -- they get one dedicated lieutenant, two sargents, and 13 deputies devoted strictly to Bonita Springs.
Money well spent according to elected officials.
Councilwoman Martha Simmons is pleased and says "crime dropped 46% significant! huge! "
The deputies - who only patrol the City of Bonita- have built a relationship with the business community as well as the school children.
She added that "I would recommend it to any community thats looking at being a more efficient govenement and getting a great service... because this is a way to go! "
Bonita's city manager is Carl Schwing.
He previously worked as assistant city manager for cape coral and its police department.
With his experience - he sees the value of getting rid of all the layers of bureaucracy of a seperate police department and working directly with the sheriff.
Schwing points out that "if we need a helicopter, a search dog..if we need additional deputies to work on a particular association... those resources are brought to bear with out any additional cost."
Sheriff Mike Scott says he is getting bombarded with questions about how the sheriff's office would absorb the Fort Myers Police Department if the voters approve the amendment.
While he is remaining neutral on the subject, he did say he is going to start crunching the numbers on what it would cost for the city of Fort Myers to get the same service under his supervision.