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1100 Immokalee Road, Naples, FL
NAPLES — From bullying in schools to laws regulating the use of motorcycle helmets, no concern was too big or too small Wednesday night, as Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk wrapped up two weeks of town hall meetings held in each of the agency’s six districts.
Now, Rambosk will take the suggestions offered by residents around the county and online and use them to shape the Sheriff’s Office’s Community Safety Plan for the coming year.
“We all live in a great and safe place, and we want to keep it that way,” Rambosk told about 50 residents who attended Wednesday night’s meeting in the community room at the Naples Daily News, 1100 Immokalee Road.
The meeting, like the previous five, ran from 6 p.m. to about 7:30 p.m.
This year’s meetings are follow-ups to similar town hall meetings the Sheriff’s Office held last March. The goal this year was to follow-up with residents on progress made since the last meetings, and to build on the five community priorities established last year: communication/information, traffic safety, crime prevention, youth programs, and community outreach programs.
Brian Messner, 45, attended Wednesday’s meeting with his wife, Donna. He expressed concern about what he sees as the increasing problem of speeding and aggressive driving in Southwest Florida. Messner did not have any specific suggestions about how deputies could address the problem.
“I just wanted to raise the issue,” Messner said.
In fact, speeding was a common topic brought up at many of the town hall meetings, Rambosk said. He said he was using the meetings to identify specific locations where speeding is a problem.
Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, Rambosk said that red-light running cameras hadn’t been brought up at any of the previous five meetings. However, there was a brief debate about the use of the cameras on Wednesday, with most in attendance seemingly in support of the controversial program and literally applauding the effort.
Other popular topics from the six meetings included: more neighborhood partnerships, expanded crime mapping online, increasing the number of youth programs, and continuing to pressure the state legislature to regulate texting while driving, which Rambosk called the agency’s number one legislative priority.
“We’re frustrated, too,” Rambosk said about the lack of regulations. “We can’t take enforcement action until we have a law.”
In Immokalee, residents encouraged Rambosk to make sure drivers in the community have licenses and insurance.
Everglades residents emphasized the need to crack down on prescription drug abuse and suggested establishing a national monitoring system for prescriptions.
In Golden Gate, residents suggested improving street lighting and establishing a mobile command post that could be brought to neighborhoods where crime is an issue.
Rambosk said the Sheriff’s Office will invite residents from each of the six districts to a planning meeting to represent their district and their district’s priorities. People who couldn’t make it to one of the six meetings can still participate by sending their concerns or suggestions electronically, via the “Got a Great Idea” banner on the bottom of the Sheriff’s Office’s website, www.colliersheriff.org.
“We want to hear from everybody all year long, not just tonight,” Rambosk told the crowd in North Naples.
Dean Moore, 70, who attended Wednesday’s meeting with her husband Bill, was concerned about videos she saw on the television news recently about children fighting in school. She was happy that she had the opportunity to voice her concerns to the sheriff, but thought more people should have attended the meeting.
Rambosk said he plans to hold town hall meetings again next year.
“I found it very informative,” Moore said. “I think more people need to be aware of what’s going on in their community.”
Connect with Ryan Mills at www.naplesnews.com/staff/ryan-mills/