A fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States to all who live in this nation is the equal protection under the law. Along with this right to equal protection is the fundamental right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by government agents. Citizens are free to walk and drive our streets, highways, and other public places without police interference so long as they obey the law. They also are untitled to be free from crime, and from the depredations of criminals, and to drive and walk our public ways safe from the actions of reckless and careless drivers. The Fort Myers Police Department is charged with protecting these rights for everyone, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, physical handicap, religion, or other belief system.
The issue of racial profiling is one of the more disturbing and controversial issues to confront law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve in recent memory. While virtually all the evidence to date is anecdotal, there exists to some degree the perception that law enforcement officers enforce traffic laws based on the ethnicity of the driver. This is a troubling development and one which causes concern to anyone charged with the enforcement of state's laws. Simply stated, local and county law enforcement agencies cannot perform their responsibilities without the trust and support of all segments of the communities they serve.
It is the responsibility of the Fort Myers Police Department to provide law enforcement, and related services to the public. In accomplishing this, officers must be observant, identify unusual occurrences and law violations using reasonable suspicion, and act upon them. It is this proactive enforcement that keeps our citizens, our streets and highways safer. It further enables us in detecting and apprehending criminals.
All laws shall be enforced equally, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, sex, physical handicap or religion and bias based profiling shall not be tolerated in enforcement efforts. This standard is established in accordance with Florida State Statue 30.15.
On or before January 1, 2002 every Florida law enforcement agency was required to incorporate an antiracial or other anti-discriminatory profiling policy into their policies and practices, utilizing the Florida Police Chiefs Association Model Policy as a guide. The anti-profiling policies must include the elements of definitions, traffic stop procedures, community education and awareness efforts, and policies for the handling of complaints from the public.
Bias-based profiling issues, including legal aspects, are provided to sworn members of the agency during in-service training and in accordance with the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission (CJSTC) requirements. Numerous policies incorporate the prohibition of bias-based profiling and members are responsible for ensuring all members of the community are treated with dignity and respect.
If you have any questions, or would like more information regarding the Fort Myers Police Departments policies prohibiting bias-based profiling, please contact the Public Information Office at 239-321-7721.