The tension between the black American community and local police is nothing new if you’ve been watching the news lately.
Some of the national tension trickled down to Fort Myers, spurring conversation when NFL player and Cape Coral native, Nate Allen was wrongfully arrested on the basis of racial profiling in Feb 2015.
A young woman mistakenly ID’d him for an older male who she claimed was masturbating in the car next to hers on South Cleveland Avenue.
Turns out it wasn’t Allen at all. Her description simply didn’t match up, and after he was wrongfully arrested and detained for 5 hours, he came back hard with a lawsuit to the city of Fort Myers.
Yeah, things got personal.
Then on October 16th, 2017, the city of Fort Myers settled, granting Allen $440,000 for damages to his appearance and for his claims of racial profiling.
You would think the story was over, but that brought about more questions for the HelloSWFL team.
Seeing that the city admits fault, what are they doing to encourage police reform to prevent instances like this from happening again?
We finally got a hold of Councilman Johnny Streets and Councilman Michael Flanders.
Councilman Streets told us of the Council’s hopes for Police reform, and councilman Flanders pointed us toward plans that are already taking place.
The Fort Myers police department hired an independent firm, Freeh Group International Solutions, to address possible issues within the department. Issues included a lack of proper training and resources, an emphasis on heavy citations for low-level crimes instead of tackling violent issues in the community, as well as rebuilding relations with, you guessed it, the community at large. It also touched on police corruption. Some officers were accused of tipping off drug dealers when it came to search warrants.
Did I mention that this document was free to the public? We’ve attached it down below.
The report made 32 recommendations to the city, which were separated into three levels: immediate, within the next 6 months, and to be implemented during the next year. Councilman Flanders says the council takes these recommendations very seriously and they have every intention of implementing each one of them.
This report was ongoing before Nate Allen was wrongfully arrested, but it helped reinforce that things needed to change.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated as this continues to develop.