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Community-Police Advisory Committee formed

By Staff | May 10, 2011

The police department’s new Community-Police Advisory Committee will be made up of Cape Coral citizens, business leaders, community interest groups and more.
Police Chief Jay Murphy announced Tuesday the formation of the group as part of the department’s ongoing partnership with the community. The CCPD has created a new website and held a community engagement forum to help open the lines of communication with the public.
The committee consists of four categories: neighborhoods, four seats; business and commerce, four seats; community interest groups, six seats; and at-large members, four seats. By working with representatives within each, the department aims to address larger groups versus individuals.
“Instead of looking at individual citizens, we thought it better to recruit chairs and presidents of organizations in hopes that they would be able to go back to their organizations so they could bring back to them what’s being discussed,” Murphy said.
“That way we catch a wider part of the community,” he said.
The group’s mission is to act as a liaison between the community and the police department and to promote community awareness, understanding and involvement in CCPD programs and services. The committee — all volunteers — will meet quarterly and provide input to Murphy.
“It’s something we look forward to and think, as time progresses, this will produce some good results,” he said. “Ultimately, it should increase a feeling of transparency with the community.”
Beth Sanger, executive director of the Cape Coral Community Foundation, said she is looking forward to working closely with the police department to identify and address the challenges and obstacles going on in the community.
“And coming up with ways to enhance the quality of life,” she said.
The committee’s formation will help open up the dialogue with the police.
“I think it’s a great outreach on Chief Murphy’s past to want to spend more time hearing from local business leaders, community leaders,” Sanger said.
Murphy anticipates that the first meeting will be held in mid-June.
“I had already talked to many of these people,” he said. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm here. They all have an opinion and they’re all willing to express their opinion.”
The committee will help to identify problems or issues within the city and relay them to the police department and vice versa. In other instances, the group could offer suggestions on where to make department cuts or decide where people who are Baker Acted go if the county no longer takes them.
“It’s part of that overall plan that we started many, many months ago,” Murphy said.
Joe Cervoni, president of the Southwest Cape Coral Neighborhood Association, was also chosen to be a committee member. He said he feels like the department wants to see what is important to the community and compare that to where its priorities stand.
“I’m glad the chief thought about the people who are associated with the different neighborhood or homeowner associations,” Cervoni said. “It would be more of a citizen outlook rather than a business outlook.”
Other committee members hail from the Cape chamber of commerce, Community Redevelopment Agency, Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber, Horizon Council, Senior Services, local high school student government, NAACP, National Alliance on Mental Illness, church pastor and more.
The CCPD’s Community-Police Advisory Committee is separate from the citizen advisory group that the Cape Coral City Council is looking to put together.