New LCSO West District Lieutenant

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Lieutenant Bryan Perera

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) provides law enforcement on Fort Myers Beach, with operations conducted out of the West District Office at 15650 Pine Ridge Road in South Fort Myers. The West District jurisdiction includes the areas of Fort Myers Beach south to Lovers Key State Park, advancing northeast to the Fowler Street/US 41 intersection, including most of McGregor Boulevard. It recently welcomed two new Lieutenants in Bryan Perera and Jeffery Dektas. The Island Sand Paper sat down with Lieutenant Perera this week. Next week readers will meet Lieutenant Dektas.

The Shark!

Lieutenant Perera joined the West District in January, so he is six months into his new assignment. “I am married now for three years to my wife, Shantel. Addisson is my step-daughter and Shantel and I have one child together; Jordan! I am originally from Miami but my family moved to Southwest Florida when I was 15, to be closer to family in Naples, as we are a tight group, so I have been here 18 years. I graduated from Gulf Coast High School, so I am a ‘Shark!’”

He currently takes classes at Florida SouthWestern State College, “working on my Associate’s degree, as I basically joined the LCSO right out of high school, though I have certainly taken a lot of specialized training classes in conjunction with my law enforcement career over that timeframe – I am at 340 classes and counting! While I have yet to complete my FSW degree, I am proud to say I graduated at the top of my Law Enforcement Academy class.”

It was Lieutenant Perera’s dream to start a military career after high school, “as I was in ROTC and my father a fighter pilot, but my vision did not make that feasible. I thought I might join the Army, to become a Special Operations Ranger, but the father of my high school best friend was with the Collier County SWAT team, and he asked me why I wanted to be in the military. When I said to do Special Ops and be on a Rappelling Team and water unit and those types of high speed/low drag jobs, he told me that in law enforcement, I could be on a SWAT Team and Rappelling Unit and Special Dignitary Security Unit and things like that.”

Serving In The Shadows

He immediately began to look at law enforcement in a new light, “as that was to be my plan after the conclusion of my military career. Suddenly I realized I could do all those things while serving my community at the same time, so I started volunteering with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office to gain experience, with my Number One goal to eventually make a SWAT Team. On SWAT, you serve in the shadows and no one quite knows the sacrifices you make on that unit, as you enter critical situations and must find a solution to hopefully bring about a peaceful conclusion for those we protect, without a lot of time or second-guessing.”

Perera with Vice-President Mike Pence during one of his Dignitary assignments. Photo provided.

Lieutenant Perera became an LCSO SWAT Team member in 2012. “While on SWAT, you take on Special Operator assignments, so one of mine is explosive breaching and another is being on the water-borne strike team. I am also one of the few Rappelling Specialists throughout all of Region 6 that includes Charlotte and Collier as well as Lee County, so my official designation is Rappel Master. Through the LCSO, I also completed several missions with the United States Marshals Task Force. Another prime assignment was on the LCSO Narcotics Unit, and I remember two cases in particular, where our team took off the streets first $900,000 then just under $1.5 million! At the end of the day, however, you don’t make any of these accomplishments yourself, but as a member of a great team effort.”

Another unique aspect to Lieutenant Perera’s law enforcement service is as a VIP Dignitary Unit member. “It is our task to provide additional protection for any high-level governmental dignitary who visits Southwest Florida. I have had the honor to be on the protection detail for President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden.”

Dignitary Units go into action whenever a national leader comes to the area, Lieutenant Perera explained, “whether for an official function, to address a national incident, make a campaign appearance, or simply vacation, so that is always an interesting experience and privilege, but also a challenge, working with units like the Secret Service. Others whom I have helped protect are Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former United States House Member Thomas Rooney. I had the honor to meet George W. Bush, Vice President Pence, and Prime Minister Trudeau and those experiences were great! Even though you are on the Protection Detail, you are not always right next to them, as we rotate assignments so everyone acquires the necessary experience.”

An Honor

After all these exciting and high profile assignments, what was Lieutenant Perera’s reaction when learning about his West District duty? “Believe it or not, it was not only a pleasant surprise but something I considered an honor! It is great being back on patrol and the West District is perfect, because it is so diverse, because some portions of it are absolutely beautiful, like Fort Myers Beach, along with good as well as bad areas, and of course mostly good with some bad people, so it is very diverse and I like that.”

He also has administrative duties, “such as being in charge of the day-to-day deputy patrol schedule, and I enjoy working closely with our four Sergeants and 28 patrol deputies, as well as Captain Matthew Herterick and Lieutenant Jeffery Dektas. I review arrest paperwork from our deputies to ensure everything moves smoothly through the system, and participate in the officer training program, so our people have everything necessary to function as best as possible on the street. About 50% of the time, I patrol as well.”

With such a varied career, what stands out for Lieutenant Perera? “While there are many high points, I absolutely loved being on the street-level Narcotics unit, as I feel that is the team on which I made the greatest impact for our community, so that is near & dear to me! We must perform in the shadows, so there is not a lot of glory for the detectives who worked with me, but it is my personal belief that narcotics will destroy a community, as it starts with one person, then one house, then one neighborhood, and the next thing you know, it snowballs out of control. I know some people in our culture feel it is alright to indulge in drugs, but they do not understand the magnitude of the problem, especially when you have to deal with issues like heroin and Fentanyl that are so detrimental to every level of our society, clear across the board.”

Suspended In Time

While still new to his assignment, Lieutenant Perera really likes Fort Myers Beach! “It has such a small town feel, and you can tell that the beach is a tight-knit community! I have a lot of experience with beach towns, like Vero Beach, South Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and the Florida Keys, but Fort Myers Beach seems like a community suspended in time, like Old Florida, and I mean that in the most complimentary way. You can tell the residents absolutely care about their Town and that they like it orderly and quiet, while understanding that everything changes with Spring Break! Mayor Anita Cereceda is so gracious, as are the other Town Council members, and their attitude seems to be reflective of the entire island, so I like and appreciate that genuine vibe!”

As for what he hopes to contribute to Fort Myers Beach, “I want island residents and guests to view me as a genuine leader who cares about the island just as much as they do, both during the great times as well as periods of conflict. I want to keep moving Fort Myers Beach in a positive direction, to ensure it remains the safe and pleasant place that people love, and that I will do everything in my power to take the best possible care of them and their homes and businesses.”

When reflecting on what his LCSO career means to him to date, “A lot, and I really mean that,” smiled Lieutenant Perera broadly! “Even though there have been many different elements to my service so far, it is the sense of satisfaction I take home every night, knowing you do something to positively impact your community, and not a lot of people can say that about their occupations. If I can help instill that in our Sergeants and Deputies, through my leadership and guidance as their Lieutenant, I know we will advance all of our communities forward!”

 

By Gary Mooney
gary@fortmyersbeach.news