The Collier County branch of the NAACP, along with Collier County Sheriff’s Office and Naples Police Department, hosted a town-hall meeting to “help facilitate safe encounters between the community and the police,” according to CCSO.
“The news today is disheartening at best,” said event speaker Bishop R.I. Neal. “We want to prevent these types of incidents by having dialogue.”
The ‘All Lives Matter’ event was held at the River Park Community Center. Panelists and speakers included Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk, Naples Police Chief Tom Weschler and Attorney Jerry Berry.
“We must come to the understanding that law enforcement is here to protect all citizens, but they can’t do that if they don’t feel safe,” Neal said.
Collier County Sheriff Rambosk addressed the crowd of approximately 100 first, discussing things from CCSO’s point of view.
“I look back over the last two weeks and there have been 14 (officer involved) events throughout the nation, including violence, tragic events,” said Collier County Sheriff Rambosk. “Unfortunately, five of those were right here in Southwest Florida.”
The five events Rambosk alluded to are:
Nov. 30: A shooting earlier this week at Coconut Point mall.
Nov. 14: A Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputy was attacked by a motorist he had been pursuing on I-75. A bystander with a concealed carry permit came to the deputy’s aid and shot the suspect, who later died.
Nov. 16: Lee County deputies came under attack again after they were met by a man with a handgun while responding to a domestic violence call in Fort Myers. Gunfire was exchanged and the man was shot by a deputy who felt his life was in danger. The deputies were not injured and the suspect suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Nov. 20: A Sanibel Police officer was shot in the shoulder during a drive-by shooting while he sat in his patrol car filling out a report from a routine traffic stop.
Nov. 25: A Naples police officer shot a man after they said he brandished a knife around the Cove Inn on Naples Bay during a domestic violence call.
“You know, the bottom line for us is the constitution and law. When you look at our mission statement, we protect the lives, property and constitutional guarantees of all persons. Period. No question. That’s what we teach and ingrain in our law enforcement officers,” Rambosk said.
Rambosk has been an officer in Collier County for 37 years.
“Beyond constitution and law, we have policy and procedure. We have a process to review calls that are not handled correctly, it’s called our Professional Standards Bureau,” Rambosk said. “The bottom line is that we are here to work with you as a community to ensure the safety of you and our law enforcement officers.”
The following all speakers, members of the community were allowed to ask questions to the panel of law enforcement officers, legal experts and NAACP representatives.
The NAACP will continue to hold town hall meetings regularly, although not always with local law enforcement.