The Fort Myers Police Department (FMPD) is taking steps in improving community relations.
The department participated in a week long program in October in an effort to improve community involvement. The series of classes was held at a local University and officers were instructed by Officer Vanessa Westly from Chicago.
Westly is a 28 year veteran for the Chicago Police Department and the coordinator for restorative strategies and trainer. She says her work consists of restoring relations within the community by building strategies and helping to humanize policing.
“There’s a fragility but yet there’s a toughness. As much as it appears that we are different, we’re really not and because of some of the more misfortunate things that have happened recently we see that there is a lack of communication,” Westly says.
The classes were 8 hours a day and taught officers the philosophies behind Westly’s training course.
“I have to say I’m very proud of them because they have been able to really tap in, in a short amount of time, and apply those different levels,” Westley said while commenting on the progress of FMPD.
On the final day of the course officers met with community leaders to come up with real solutions to problems within the community.
“We can change the narrative, we can collaboratively work,” Westly says.