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Fort Myers Beach churches launch e-database to track suspicious behavior

February 7, 2019
Lehigh Acres Citizen

A digital neighborhood watch program could help Fort Myers Beach police itself.

The Ministerial Association of Fort Myers Beach has launched an e-mail address where residents and visitors can report suspicious behavior: fmbincident@gmail.com.

The intent, said Pastor Shawn Critser of Beach Baptist Church, is to create a database of incidents that is accessible to the churches, community hubs like Bay Oaks Recreational Center and the Beach Library, and the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

By inputting the time, place, and individuals involved and linking community leaders, Critser said they hope to be able to spot troublesome patterns that will allow them to intervene before something more serious happens.

After the death of Dr. Leroy Hommerding, some residents came forward to tell stories about violent encounters they had with his alleged assailant, a transient man who frequented Beach Baptist and the God's Table program at Chapel By The Sea.

"Everybody comes together after the fact and says, oh, he did that at my place, too, that was a little weird. (So now) I'm putting 'a little weird' in the database, so that everybody goes, uh-oh, a pattern. Let's grab some help," he said.

Beach Baptist offers regular hot meals and a food pantry every week for the needy, but it is also an ACCESS Florida point, where individuals can sign up for benefits like food stamps and Medicaid.

"If I'm not plugging you into a service that's helping you move along, then I'm not doing my job. I'm not going to patch you. I want to be whole life," he said.

But when it comes to balancing their charity with keeping the public safe, communication is key for the churches.

"That central database is going to help us identify those that don't want help and are causing problems. We're going to remove services from them," he said.

"Fort Myers Beach needs to police itself. We don't need to come up in arms with it, we just need to police it and talk to one another, not complain about one another. Be a part of the solution."

The database is up and running, and there are already a few incidents posted to it, Critser said, but so far, nothing to cause alarm.

He encourages people to reach out if they have concerns or an incident to report.

"We want to hear from the community," he said.

If you have something to report, send an email to fmbincident@gmail.com.

For more information on Beach Baptist's weekly services, or to volunteer, call the church office at 239-463-6452.

 
 

 

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