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Downtowners’ viewpoints divided over downtown Fort Myers mobile surveillance unit

FORT MYERS, Fla.  — It’s been one week since the alleged shooting that took place in a parking lot in the downtown area of Fort Myers, which was committed by Jasmine Battle, according to the Fort Myers Police Department. The crime sparked a discussion between members of the City Council and the leaders of the police department. In the end, brand new preventative safety measures were implemented throughout the downtown area.

The mobile surveillance unit that has been placed by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office is the most notable change that can be seen just by walking along Hendry Street between Second and Main. One of them has a tower at the very top that has cameras connected to it. Another has at least five cameras positioned at all angles.

Acting Police Chief Randall Pepitone expressed his optimism that surveillance cameras might play a role in reducing the number of violent crimes.

Downtowners’ opinions on the skywatchers are divided.

“I mean yes, to some extent. Your privacy is violated,” said Leisa, visitng from Coconut Creek. “You feel like you’re constantly being watched, but in case anything does happen then there’s evidence.”

Dennis Muchow, who visits the city every other week, is pleased that they have finally been placed.

“If they know the cameras are here and know that it’s being recorded, I think it does have the power to prevent crimes from happening,” he said.

On the other hand, not everyone shares that viewpoint.

“If something happens to you the cameras aren’t going to — it’ll capture it but it’s not gonna help you when in the moment when something happens,” Emma Buck said.

All of them agreed that the Fort Myers Police Department should take more safety measures.

“They do have a police presence here, so I don’t know if they can add more of a police presence or not, if they have enough staff for that, sure,” said Muchow.

Before the incident ever took place, there were already officers and cameras in the downtown area. The cameras have been installed and are operational, but it is unclear if more officers will be added throughout the course of this weekend. The incident that occurred on Sunday triggered this move.

“When you have a suspect that’s so brazen, that they’re going to fire at a victim within 30 yards of five officers that are on foot, you’re not gonna stop there,” Pepitone said.

Checkpoints were included in the list of ideas that City Councilman Johnny Streets presented to the individuals in charge of the police department.

“I supposed it could be done, and if they tell us where the checkpoints are — we man them,” Pepitone said.

Pepitone has said that there would be some changes made to the tactical policy, but he is unable to specify what those changes are.

Lowell Bowen

From the time he was 8 years old Lowell knew he wanted to be on TV. Well, as people say one thing leads to another, that's how Lowell started his career in the news industry. Lowell has been part of The South Florida Daily since the very beginning.

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