When Marco Island Police Chief Don Hunter was a guest on the Aug. 28 "Naples Daily NewsMakers wth Jeff Lytle’’ program, there were more questions from readers and viewers than could be addressed on the air.
He promised to address the others, and here they are.
The public can submit questions (names are optional) by watching the Daily News for lists of upcoming guests and calling 213-6070; emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; or going to naplesnews.com/newsmakers.
The program airs Sunday mornings at 10 on ABC7; video and text highlights are archived at naplesnews.com/newsmakers.
Question: What are your plans with the Legislature to make Florida a better state to live in, visit and do business?
Jacob Winge, Naples
Hunter: All and any legislative activity will be coordinated through the city manager and with his input.
My legislative agenda is not yet set.
There are a number of initiatives planned by the Florida Chiefs of Police Association that are of interest; these can be viewed at the chiefs website (Google FPCA).
Q. What are the biggest changes you have in store?
Hunter: It is too early to make any definitive plan of action relative to "big" plans. I imagine that most of the immediate work will be with the agency informing and educating me as to its unique efforts and challenges. I will be in a learning circumstance for some time. I believe that it would be a mistake for me to make any large adjustments to the agency without first understanding our current status.
Q: Do you believe that a city force is needed, or will you seek to merge it again with Collier County Sheriff’s Office? Is that why you are on a one-year contract?
Daniel Craig, Marco Island and Cleveland
Hunter: By virtue of the vote of the Marco Island constituency the city has a police force. There is not now nor will there be an effort to merge the agencies together unless the City Council at the will of the people of Marco Island determine that a merger is warranted.
However, due to budget limitations of both the sheriff’s office and the police department I believe that there will certainly be more collaborative efforts engaged this fiscal year to better insure successful crime suppression and prevention efforts for both agencies.
I would add that the advantage of having a police department is that you have a force that is deployed to a single patrol area (the island) rather than being subject to redeployments to other geographic areas. By comparison, when I served as sheriff, if there were major crime trends and offense patterns in one of the six substation areas of the county I would redeploy a group of members from the lower crime rate areas (such as Marco Island) to that problem area.
This kept the sheriff’s patrols somewhat fluid and less likely to become well known to the public they served whereas a more static, non-cycling deployment group such as the Marco Island Police is able to learn the community, its nuances, its people and its law enforcement challenges and the people of Marco Island come to know the officers individually, which is a more desirable and superior situation.
Q: Do you think you’ll have to create a new internal affairs division to clean house?
Dick Whittier, Marco Island
Hunter: We are far too small to have a division for internal affairs. At present one of the two lieutenants of the agency performs all internal reviews, assisted as necessary by the agency’s captain, who serves as an executive officer for the agency.
The volume of internal affairs investigations is remarkably small.
I have just completed a review of the second such investigation for this calendar year. To give some perspective to this number, while I served as sheriff the office would have more on the order of 100-plus such investigations, which required a larger group of investigators.
Even then the sheriff’s group was structured as a bureau with roughly five investigators and a supervisor; we would assign special temporary investigators for peak volume periods.
I suspect that we will do something similar if volume dictates peak period staffing or complex case investigation.
Internal affairs stands as a barrier against challenges to our professional ethics and our oaths; proper application of discipline for violations of oath and policy and procedure tends to correct any perceived or real ethical issues of an agency.
I intend to utilize the internal affairs function for that purpose and I know that the members of the agency support that orientation.
Q: What position will you play on the softball team? Are you any good? Can you hit a ball father than Fire Chief Murphy?
Hunter: My usual position has always been center field; as for whether I am any good at it, I would have to let my performance speak for itself, though I have noticed that the older I have gotten the better I was (in my mind and as the memory fades!)
I think Chief Murphy prefers to bunt a lot and sacrifice himself for his fellow players; if that is the case, I should be able to hit a bit further.
Seriously, I am not a long ball hitter but rather a place hitter, shooting for the large holes that are left in defensive coverage.
Should be fun, which, of course, it is designed to be.
Thanks for the question …