With the tragic murder of Beach Library Director Dr. Leroy Hommerding by a homeless man still fresh on the minds of Fort Myers Beach residents and the height of Spring Break on our doorstep, Sergeant Alan Canfield of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) Public Information Department addressed these and other community safety issues.
“It is important to note that the unfortunate and horrific incident concerning Dr. Hommerding did not occur as a result of lax or insufficient security on Fort Myers Beach,” commented Sergeant Canfield. “The security of Fort Myers Beach and every other jurisdiction is and has been the Lee County Sheriff’s Office highest priority. For example, we have utilized surveillance towers on Fort Myers Beach in varying locations for the past four years. LCSO has directed patrols in areas of concern. There has always been and will always be an increased deputy presence for large events…Additionally, the Town Mayor and Town Manager have Command Staff, District Captain’s/Lieutenant’s cell phone numbers and maintain regular contact with the LCSO.”
During Spring Break, offered Sergeant Canfield, “we regularly increase foot patrols, strategically place surveillance towers, increase manpower, increase traffic patrols, and utilize ATVs on the beach to enforce laws and ordinances. The LCSO devotes hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional staffing, dedicates additional patrol deputies, narcotics detectives, traffic deputies and reallocates numerous physical resources to monitor and quickly respond to potential problems.”
When asked about the perception among some Fort Myers Beach residents that when they call the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the island community receives a slow response, Sergeant Canfield disagreed and offered the following explanation: “EVERY call for service received by our agency is important to us. We are here for the residents and visitors of the County. Calls received are prioritized and deputies are dispatched accordingly. Some calls that come in, such as medical assist calls, crimes in progress calls, and emergency situations, just to name a few, will receive a top priority response…It is important to recognize that navigating (safely) through the volume of vehicles, residents, and visitors is not always an easy task…However, a deputy will ALWAYS respond when we receive a call!”
Asked whether Fort Myers Beach should have its own Sheriff’s Substation, “We are constantly reviewing our operations to deliver the best possible service,” the Sergeant related. “We can assure all the residents of Fort Myers Beach that we are doing everything we can to ensure your safety. There is a substantial deputy presence on the beach 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We can promise you that we respond to all of your calls that come to our agency, we address all emergency situations, and we conduct all patrol hours.”
By Gary Mooney