Frazzano talks recruitment and accountability issues at MIPD during Lunch with the Chief

Chief Tracy L. Frazzano of the Marco Island Police Department smiles to the camera during Marco Island Police Foundation's Lunch with the Chief in Island Country Club on Nov. 7. Likewise, chief Michael D. Murphy of the Fire-Rescue Department stands next to her.

Marco Island Police Chief Tracy L. Frazzano says the agency does not have enough officers on the streets as it looks to hire more and improve accountability.

“I can’t begin to tell you how shorthanded we really are," Frazzano said Thursday during the Lunch with the Chief event hosted by the Marco Island Police Foundation in the Island Country Club.

Out of 37 positions in the department, four were open before she started in August, Frazzano said. One officer resigned, another is on paid leave and a third is on modified duty due to pregnancy, according to Frazzano. 

Six officers are either assigned to local schools or are in training, and two others are detectives, Frazzano said.

“Now the rest of us have to cover the streets," she said.  "The guys have been great."

"They have been switching shifts, they have been working without days off.”

Frazzano said she is looking to hire people with law enforcement experience because MIPD needs to put officers on the streets.

Another top priority for Frazzano is accountability following several issues that mostly predate her tenure as chief.

In the most recent, two officers were separated after the spreading of rumors caused an altercation, the Naples Daily News reported

Frazzano said one way to improve accountability is to get MIPD accredited at the state and national level. 

“What’s good about being an accredited police department is it not only establishes our policies, procedures, rules, regulations, directives [...] but […] we have to show proof that we are following these things,” Frazzano said.

“There is mandatory requirements for the training and education of the officers so that you get the best service from us."

Frazzano said the accreditation is going to be a two-year process.

Another way to improve accountability is the recent purchase of an electronic internal affairs system, according to Frazzano. 

"The only way we do records on everybody is in a Word document that gets printed out and goes into a filing cabinet," Frazzano said. 

In August, Naples Daily News reported the city started an investigation into allegations that Captain Dave Baer placed "malicious documents" in officers' employee files without their knowledge. 

At the time, City Manager Mike McNees sent an email to City Council informing it that a third-party investigator would review the handling of personnel files.

Marco Island City Manager Mike McNees speaks with a resident during the Marco Island Police Foundation's Lunch with the Chief at Island Country Club on Nov. 7, 2019.

"By it being an electronic system, it gets monitored," Frazzano said. "It knows when somebody goes in and looks at any files, knows when we pull files out, knows when we put things in."

"A lot of supervisors have a tendency to take notes on people and not share those notes with everybody else, putting them in their own filing cabinet," Frazzano said. "Well, this one has a base in which we can put the notes in there and it goes to the officer’s file."

Frazzano said this is good for officers because supervisors can also put positive notes into their files.

“They need to understand that they are going to be recognized for the good work that they are doing," Frazzano said.

"I’m not saying to forget about the past, because we have to know what the past is or else we are doomed to repeat it," Frazzano said. "Don’t judge us by that anymore, we are moving forward and we are looking to do great things."

"I know we are going to be the best police department in Florida so give us that chance."

Additional reporting by Devan Patel.