A scathing 72-page report released Wednesday outlines a toxic culture within the Fort Myers Police Department.
The News-Press by Cody Dulaney
August 21, 2017
The city of Fort Myers is paying an outside lawyer $220 an hour to help keep information from the public.
The News-Press has fought for five months to obtain documents that shed more light on allegations of Fort Myers police corruption, a drug-trafficking ring that operated with impunity and internal affairs investigations that were botched.
Fort Myers officials claim the documents are exempt from public disclosure because they contain active criminal intelligence. But state law requires, at a minimum, the release of documents even if they have to be censored.
After repeated requests over five months, The News-Press has not received anything from the city or the consultant who prepared the documents.
“Public concerns regarding police corruption are of utmost importance, and to obfuscate and delay the release of information that may shed light on the possibility of corruption only serves to heighten those concerns and cast doubt on the workings of law enforcement,” said Barbara Petersen, president of the Tallahassee-based First Amendment Foundation.
“Just because the police department can deny a public record request for such information, doesn’t mean it should.”
Last year, the City Council asked for a top-to-bottom review of the police department by Freeh Group International Solutions, a Delaware-based consulting firm founded by former FBI director Louis Freeh. Released in February, the Freeh Report confirmed heavy-handed policing and revealed allegations of corruption, among many other problems.