Guest Commentary: MIPD Chief Don Hunter – A response to concerns regarding our department

A response to citizens’ concerns regarding the size of our police force, vehicles, etc.

On behalf of the Marco Island Police Department I would like to thank all those citizens who have been writing to us directly, as well as to City Council, expressing your opinions about the service we perform. I wish to clarify a misconception relative to the traffic stops we make, as well as questions regarding the size of our staff, and questions pertaining to our vehicle fleet. I would like to address these issues in the hopes of putting your concerns to rest; should you still have questions, please feel free to write directly to me at: Dhunter@marcoislandpolice.us.

Department size

In the past fiscal year Marco Island had 26 patrol officers on duty; we have four officers on patrol at all times working a 12-hour shift; a typical squad shift deployment includes a supervisory person (sergeant) on duty. We have a small support staff for the evidence room, reception area and official records management; we also have three detectives, two community service members (a school crossing guard element and a school resource officer), and a flexible operations unit for which City Council has authorized three officers for the fiscal year (all but one of these positions have been filled).

At the current time our staffing does not permit routine police boat/marine operations. Part of Marco Island’s property taxes are paid to Collier County and are allocated to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO), which is required by law to provide service to Marco Island; however the practical reality is that CCSO is under-staffed due to budgetary constraints, and their available staff is allocated to those areas within the county that have a significantly higher incidence of crime than does Marco Island. If called to respond to Marco Island, CCSO would dispatch a patrol, however the response time is typically dependent on a patrol deputy that is not stationed on island. We do receive marine patrol, crime scene processing, large evidence storage service, special weapons and tactics (SWAT) response, K-9, special traffic operations, gang enforcement, officer training, jail services, bailiff services in the courts, aviation operations and other services from the sheriff’s office that are paid for through our taxes.

Vehicular fleet

A popular misconception is that MIPD has a large number of new patrol vehicles. Our fleet is comprised primarily of Chevrolet SUV’s (we were a Ford fleet but found the dependability, life-span, discontinuation of the larger Ford pursuit sedan, the resizing and structural reengineering of the downsized Ford SUV and other considerations recommended the Chevrolet Tahoe Police Pursuit Vehicle as superior).

The pursuit/patrol fleet is purchased under a state of Florida government contract. The average age of our fleet police vehicles is five (5) years old and our vehicles typically accrue in excess of 100,000 miles before decommissioning and resale at auction. While I served as Sheriff of Collier County the usual life-span of a patrol vehicle was 1.5 to two years and 100,000 miles. It is important to keep in mind that police patrol vehicles on the island, unlike your personal vehicles, operate virtually non-stop (they are not individually assigned but rather are shared by on-duty patrol officers), these patrol vehicles are operated for approximately 12 hours per shift in our island environment, constantly accelerating and decelerating, stopping, and travelling over frequently flooded streets in an extremely harsh salt environment.

With the assistance of the sheriff’s office working weekender program, we keep our fleet vehicle skins washed and waxed and in good condition to help retain resale value at end of useful life. Many residents are surprised to find that although they seem to see our black patrol vehicles “everywhere,” the reality is that we only have one black patrol vehicle! There is a supervisor’s vehicle that is black as well, but it does not patrol the island; frankly the constant sightings are a complement to the thoroughness of our patrol officers exercise in providing high profile visibility to our island. We will be in neighborhoods for visible presence to prevent daytime burglary while you are away from home at work or on errands.

Traffic stops

When the MIPD issues a traffic citation the fees collected do not go to the MIPD; in fact, if an officer has to attend court for an offense we actually lose money because the officer cannot perform their regular duties and may be subject to overtime pay. In my former position as sheriff, traffic stops and traffic enforcement had become a primary concern of my constituents owing to the grossly violated speed limits, running/failure to stop at traffic lighted and signage controlled intersections resulting in many serious injuries, deaths and the family losses resulting from these tragedies. I would add that traffic stops are the situations in which law enforcement officers not only attempt to change poor driving habits but also discover weapons, gang members, wanted persons, associates of known offenders and drugs and paraphernalia.

In other words, traffic stops are a primary focus of law enforcement agencies. Just in my previous two years here as your chief of police, I noticed a significant uptick in the requests from neighborhoods for more speed enforcement and enforcement of traffic control devices (stop signs in neighborhoods).

The citizens of Marco Island have a high expectation of service. As Fire/Rescue Chief Murphy has indicated on numerous occasions, both of our departments respond to an inordinate number of medical calls; fortunately, although we do have crime, it’s obviously a relatively small number in relation to the medical calls. Despite inflation in operating costs and budget-imposed reductions, we have maintained a high level of service to our community and our entire staff, as well as myself, remain committed to doing so.

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Comments » 25

OldMarcoMan writes:

WOW!
I hadn't thought about the Police Dept. one way or the other, but NOW I'm kinda upset.
4 Officers, 1 Supervisor, 2 Kinda Cops at the School. a Couple of Detectives, 1 Asst. Chief, a Chief, some support Support Staff........
WOW!
Ill give you ONE WORD for the MIPD,,,,, Bloated

laslic writes:

The good thing about the MIPD and the MIFD is that they service both their supporters and opponents.

Konfuzius writes:

MIPD - time to say good by.
Bring the Sheriff back.

Pursuit writes:

Our comparable size city in upsate NY (pop16000) the police dept has 36 full time employee's which seem's to be in line with Marco Similar scenario with relationship with sheriff's dept. I cant see Marco being overly staffed Just hope it stay's that way
I think our police dept staffer's here are in much better physical shape than a few of Marco's shall we say portly individual's

bondie writes:

Thank you for your services. I agree 100 percent with Genuine. You said it all! It seems to me that some people do not appreciate what they have until they need it.

August8 writes:

Great job to MIPD

marco97 writes:

Mr. Hunter, I remember when you were the Collier County Sheriff you told Marco Island that you could give us as many patrol cars as we needed for a cost of (I can't remember the number but I'm thinking $100,000 a year per car) dedicated to the Island. I always thought this was the best option for Marco since it would limit our liability when one of Marco's finest t-bones one of our citizens doing 80 down Collier Blvd. Plus we would not be saddled with an under funded pension.
We could even pay $200,000 a year per patrol car and get 5 full time collier officers down here for a Million a year and still save 3 mil. plus.

August8 writes:

Don't let Mr Breeze hear about this story, he will start going nuts over his cost of $11 bucks.

MrBreeze writes:

What is not talked about in this article is the new term in Public Safety called "consolidation"

That is where agencies such as Marco Island Police and Fire can have opportuntity to merge together and come out as one stronger unit with less costs and better services to the taxpayer.

I am surprised that the Chief of Police being a former Collier County Sheriff would resist this plan. Most times in other cities where this has occured the problem is there are to many upper management positions that are now duplicated after the merge.

Now lets suppose that Collier County Sheriff and Marco Island Police and Fire merged. The coverage area could be Marco Island, Isles of Capri, Goodland and to Us41. Take in account that could also include Marine operations also.

The new department would cover the waterways then the new fireboat would be justified. The cost are spread across the whole department. The coverage is expanded,costs are lowered.

The problem is many egos get in the way due to the fact that some will not allow change.

I believe that no one wants to not have Public Safety. It is where the waste of dollars are duplicated due to lack of creative thinking is where I and many others have issues.

ajm3s writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

What is not talked about in this article is the new term in Public Safety called "consolidation"

That is where agencies such as Marco Island Police and Fire can have opportuntity to merge together and come out as one stronger unit with less costs and better services to the taxpayer.

I am surprised that the Chief of Police being a former Collier County Sheriff would resist this plan. Most times in other cities where this has occured the problem is there are to many upper management positions that are now duplicated after the merge.

Now lets suppose that Collier County Sheriff and Marco Island Police and Fire merged. The coverage area could be Marco Island, Isles of Capri, Goodland and to Us41. Take in account that could also include Marine operations also.

The new department would cover the waterways then the new fireboat would be justified. The cost are spread across the whole department. The coverage is expanded,costs are lowered.

The problem is many egos get in the way due to the fact that some will not allow change.

I believe that no one wants to not have Public Safety. It is where the waste of dollars are duplicated due to lack of creative thinking is where I and many others have issues.

Go to the head of the class!

August8 writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

What is not talked about in this article is the new term in Public Safety called "consolidation"

That is where agencies such as Marco Island Police and Fire can have opportuntity to merge together and come out as one stronger unit with less costs and better services to the taxpayer.

I am surprised that the Chief of Police being a former Collier County Sheriff would resist this plan. Most times in other cities where this has occured the problem is there are to many upper management positions that are now duplicated after the merge.

Now lets suppose that Collier County Sheriff and Marco Island Police and Fire merged. The coverage area could be Marco Island, Isles of Capri, Goodland and to Us41. Take in account that could also include Marine operations also.

The new department would cover the waterways then the new fireboat would be justified. The cost are spread across the whole department. The coverage is expanded,costs are lowered.

The problem is many egos get in the way due to the fact that some will not allow change.

I believe that no one wants to not have Public Safety. It is where the waste of dollars are duplicated due to lack of creative thinking is where I and many others have issues.

Shocking MrBreeze, just shocking !!!

The 1st time I have ever read a comment you posted that was not sarcastic and perhaps displayed a little good sense, remarkable !
Now, perhaps some consolidation could be accomplished but in not so broad of a manner.
How about Marco Police and Fire consolidation if I am not mistaken that was the original plan upon incorporation?
I doubt the resistance from manager's would be as large as you decribe and they may very well fall in line.
Finally, it's the citizens of the City that derailed this once before??????

MrBreeze writes:

Ajm3s Thank you!

I believe this is a great time to accomplish such a venture and I think the people of the region, Marco Island, Isles of Capri and Goodland should push for consolidation.

Just imagine how much good this could do. Regionalize the water plant, the Public Works Dept. Wastewater plant, Building, Planning, Zoning, Oridance/Code enforcement. It is endless.

The paramaters are simple create a "region" What better than the three cities that are already in the same County? That once were run by the same County? That border each other by land and water.

Create a Beach Patrol inclusive of Lifeguards and First Aid which I see is desperately needed right on the beach. Let the region collect and spend the tax dollars that otherwise would be paid as individual Cities.

Dismantle MICA, Keep the Deed restrictions permanent and managed by the Region Building and planning Authority.

Have Regional EMS and Advanced Life Support with full coverage for the Region. Hire qualified long term people not transplants looking to double dip the system for another pension. Give preference to younger candiates who grew up and trained in the area and are willing to commit to the profession.

The region could have the best equipment as costs would again be spread across the Region.

I find it puzzling the Chief of Police is writing the newspaper. For what? To convince the Taxpayers of Marco Island things are fine. They may be but it could be great, and example of the future, not just kick the can down the road.

August8, we rarely agree on anything but I believe Marco Island Police and Fire should have merged long time ago. The time is now for a start to a broader better future for this Region.

Like I said, many ego's need to be overcome to move forward with such a plan. The best part is it is a winner for both the employees and also the Taxpayers of the three areas.

Just emagine how good it could really be.

August8 writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

Ajm3s Thank you!

I believe this is a great time to accomplish such a venture and I think the people of the region, Marco Island, Isles of Capri and Goodland should push for consolidation.

Just imagine how much good this could do. Regionalize the water plant, the Public Works Dept. Wastewater plant, Building, Planning, Zoning, Oridance/Code enforcement. It is endless.

The paramaters are simple create a "region" What better than the three cities that are already in the same County? That once were run by the same County? That border each other by land and water.

Create a Beach Patrol inclusive of Lifeguards and First Aid which I see is desperately needed right on the beach. Let the region collect and spend the tax dollars that otherwise would be paid as individual Cities.

Dismantle MICA, Keep the Deed restrictions permanent and managed by the Region Building and planning Authority.

Have Regional EMS and Advanced Life Support with full coverage for the Region. Hire qualified long term people not transplants looking to double dip the system for another pension. Give preference to younger candiates who grew up and trained in the area and are willing to commit to the profession.

The region could have the best equipment as costs would again be spread across the Region.

I find it puzzling the Chief of Police is writing the newspaper. For what? To convince the Taxpayers of Marco Island things are fine. They may be but it could be great, and example of the future, not just kick the can down the road.

August8, we rarely agree on anything but I believe Marco Island Police and Fire should have merged long time ago. The time is now for a start to a broader better future for this Region.

Like I said, many ego's need to be overcome to move forward with such a plan. The best part is it is a winner for both the employees and also the Taxpayers of the three areas.

Just emagine how good it could really be.

I continue to agree but as I said on a more limited basis.I think we have ample and sufficient evidence as to what happens when government or it's agencies get to large? Don't we?
Collier County is large enough and have enough to manage current responsibilities. Marco is a City and has been for better or worse but the merger of departments' within could be benificial to both citizen's and emplotyee's.
Once again and this is very important, it's not the ego's that would stop this if the people speak, it's plain and simple it will be thd 'Fire Union'. They will fight like dogs and drag every moment of 9/11 in to get people's attention.
This is not NY but don't ask them to recognize that.

26yearsonmarco writes:

in response to Konfuzius:

MIPD - time to say good by.
Bring the Sheriff back.

Once again, we agree.

However, my main concern is will the Sheriff have enough Deputies to hide in the shadows with black cars at every stop sign and issue Rolling Stop Citations.

MrBreeze writes:

August8 I am not looking to create big goverment. I am looking at it in a sense that one larger team of three cities working together with three taxbase incomes not doing the same thing on their own.

I would rather see one logo on an employees shirt rather than three, After all, Collier County is already involved in all three areas.

It would just make good business sense to team up. Still have management just not so many. Still have the same amount of services but better with more efficiency.

Able to provide better service at todays costs is a hard argue to go against.

Like I say be it ego's or Fire Unions or whatever that is the hard hurdle to get over to be able to move forward with such a plan.

It is happening in many Cities and working well.

Old way, Three duplicated Chief or Directors. Regional way, One Regional Director. Same with all departments, managers then one Director. Savings huge.
Money saved, have state of the art equipment and personell provide value to taxpayer.

Generally a three small City area works best for coverage. The area of Marco, Isles, and Gooodland would fit perfect.

August8 writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

August8 I am not looking to create big goverment. I am looking at it in a sense that one larger team of three cities working together with three taxbase incomes not doing the same thing on their own.

I would rather see one logo on an employees shirt rather than three, After all, Collier County is already involved in all three areas.

It would just make good business sense to team up. Still have management just not so many. Still have the same amount of services but better with more efficiency.

Able to provide better service at todays costs is a hard argue to go against.

Like I say be it ego's or Fire Unions or whatever that is the hard hurdle to get over to be able to move forward with such a plan.

It is happening in many Cities and working well.

Old way, Three duplicated Chief or Directors. Regional way, One Regional Director. Same with all departments, managers then one Director. Savings huge.
Money saved, have state of the art equipment and personell provide value to taxpayer.

Generally a three small City area works best for coverage. The area of Marco, Isles, and Gooodland would fit perfect.

I'am not sure to which area specifically you are speaking of but I believe you are mistaken and if anything the trend is moving in the ather direction.
If you like glance at the major metropolitan areas on the other side of the Everglades and you will see exactly that after decades of larger more complex government models.Unfortunately as organizations grow in the public sector they may have more and larger bells and whistles but they always become less responsive to citizens.I understand what you are suggesting and it may appear to be a sound idea at cost savings but I can tell you that is very seldom the result.
Many cities are incorporating all around the state for exactly that reason.
Now you may not believe it, but you are pooping in very high cotton as a citizen of Marco.The fact that citizens believe they can defer their costs by out sourcing in that manner is incorrect, believe me.
Never will happen but to merge local police and fire would be a winner for citizens and emplyee's plus reduce dupication and save $$$$$.I'a not saying an intire $11 bucks, but perhaps $6 bucks or so?

26yearsonmarco writes:

If you look at the new Notice of Proposed Property Taxes, simply divide Section C by your total Property Taxes.

In my case the cost to operate the City is 15% of the total bill.

It would be a great thing if some of the ideas talked about in this Blog resulted in a 10% reduction.

August8 writes:

in response to 26yearsonmarco:

If you look at the new Notice of Proposed Property Taxes, simply divide Section C by your total Property Taxes.

In my case the cost to operate the City is 15% of the total bill.

It would be a great thing if some of the ideas talked about in this Blog resulted in a 10% reduction.

A reduction would be great but would you be happy then? Will you ever be 'Happy'?

ajm3s writes:

Again, it is what is not disclosed that concerns me. I would like to believe the City of Marco Island is using predictive software to efficiently allocate resources given "higher level of service" demanded by residents to actually reduce cost.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/09/tech/in...

Again, it is not about size of organization but its effective use of resources. The government must enter the new age and utilize management tools that private industry, especially manufacturing, has incorporated for decades to eliminate waste of resources.

August8 writes:

in response to ajm3s:

Again, it is what is not disclosed that concerns me. I would like to believe the City of Marco Island is using predictive software to efficiently allocate resources given "higher level of service" demanded by residents to actually reduce cost.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/09/tech/in...

Again, it is not about size of organization but its effective use of resources. The government must enter the new age and utilize management tools that private industry, especially manufacturing, has incorporated for decades to eliminate waste of resources.

Sure, Sure, you think that is going to happen, it won't.
Like I posted to Mr Breeze, government is never going to be as efficient as business because there is no profit requirement.The bigger it get's the worse it gets, so?
Citizen oversight is essential and is the most productive means to move in that direction.

MrBreeze writes:

Ajm3s Correct!

August8 This may shock you but I am ok with the 11.00 bucks. My concern is when it goes to 15.00 then 20.00 where does it end????

Again, you make valid points but goverment has to get modeled after business or the end up in bankruptcy.

Here in the North where for years independent Cities were flush with cash the combination of Legacy costs, pension funds and loss of revenue have forced consolidation or go broke. It is working and not to say the Counties are running them, in some cases it is just neighboring towns combining services to stay afloat.

August8 writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

Ajm3s Correct!

August8 This may shock you but I am ok with the 11.00 bucks. My concern is when it goes to 15.00 then 20.00 where does it end????

Again, you make valid points but goverment has to get modeled after business or the end up in bankruptcy.

Here in the North where for years independent Cities were flush with cash the combination of Legacy costs, pension funds and loss of revenue have forced consolidation or go broke. It is working and not to say the Counties are running them, in some cases it is just neighboring towns combining services to stay afloat.

MrBreeze,
Fortunately that is not the case for most all Florida Pensions including the State they are very sound in general.Some steps have been taken to ensure this going forward although some a little harsh but in Florida things are good.
Now, in the north because I do not know specifically know where you speak of large labor unions have placed cash in the pockets of Liberal Democrats to raise benifits until they are broke, look at the teacher's for the best example.
Law Enforcement and to some degree fire largely due to thier duties do deserve a good pension but I agree it must be at a level that the jurisdiction can afford or everyone looses.
Finally, it's rarely the employee it's the crooked Crat's, that is my clear and unmistaken experience and observations.

August8 writes:

in response to August8:

MrBreeze,
Fortunately that is not the case for most all Florida Pensions including the State they are very sound in general.Some steps have been taken to ensure this going forward although some a little harsh but in Florida things are good.
Now, in the north because I do not know specifically know where you speak of large labor unions have placed cash in the pockets of Liberal Democrats to raise benifits until they are broke, look at the teacher's for the best example.
Law Enforcement and to some degree fire largely due to thier duties do deserve a good pension but I agree it must be at a level that the jurisdiction can afford or everyone looses.
Finally, it's rarely the employee it's the crooked Crat's, that is my clear and unmistaken experience and observations.

MrBreeze and others,

Just happen to think about recent activity in the City of Ft Meyers where you have seen serious attempte to disband the Police in favor of the Sheriff.Well, don't mistake this for the sake of $$$$$ because I would conclude more about City Politics?
No doubt the local police can do a better job because they are always close to the problems and that does not mean I don't appreciate Lee County Sherif's, they are great.
In recent years violence and crime have increased as in many inner city ares which are created by social conditions being in poor shape do to 'you know who'.
So now that it's out of control community activists like 'you know who' point fingers especially when addressing the issues get tuff.They want street violence down but expect the Police to hold hands all the time which is like winning a war when you don't fight.Law Enforcment is difficult at times and as hard as professionals try things can and will go wrong at times,unfortunately !
So, politicians are wanting to pass this nasty business along to the County but not for the $$$$ or controll, they just want the Sheriff to point finger's at and 'Not' them.

WizeOlMarco writes:

If we all were perfect beings we would need no policing; we are not. For those that do not like the operating costs of human technology, perhaps non-human technology - intersection cameras for red light runners and stop sign rollers, auto speed guns to issue tickets for speed violations by the uninformed or unwilling, in-motion scales for the overweight haulers, id badge readers for the fish removers, swale parkers and sand encroachers...of course we like this even less, it removes the human interaction at the moment of the crime, the chance to wink or talk yourself out of a factual moment. Given the alternatives MIPD may not be too bad, though they could be more efficient such as using horses to patrol high density tourist sites in the season...oops, shouldn't open that bag of manure again.

August8 writes:

in response to WizeOlMarco:

If we all were perfect beings we would need no policing; we are not. For those that do not like the operating costs of human technology, perhaps non-human technology - intersection cameras for red light runners and stop sign rollers, auto speed guns to issue tickets for speed violations by the uninformed or unwilling, in-motion scales for the overweight haulers, id badge readers for the fish removers, swale parkers and sand encroachers...of course we like this even less, it removes the human interaction at the moment of the crime, the chance to wink or talk yourself out of a factual moment. Given the alternatives MIPD may not be too bad, though they could be more efficient such as using horses to patrol high density tourist sites in the season...oops, shouldn't open that bag of manure again.

Some good ideas but you forgot DUI's which is what many old Marco folk's really hate. They want to do their thing?
You ommitted marine and to include Horses, bring em on.

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