August 24, 2010
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Contact: Public Affairs Office
FORT MYERS -- Department of Corrections Secretary Walter McNeil will be presenting Ft. Myers Police Department (FMPD) Chief Douglas Baker with the “Re-Entry Blue Ribbon Initiative” award. The event will take place Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at police headquarters located at 2210 Widman Way.
Secretary McNeil created the award as a formal method of recognizing organizations that go above and beyond in their re-entry initiatives. The concept of the Re-Entry Blue Ribbon Initiative Award or "RBI" keys off of the baseball designation “Runs Batted In” to symbolize the goal of sending inmates and offenders home to stay.
The Fort Myers Police Department will be honored specifically for its Community Offender, Probation and Education (C.O.P.E.) Unit. The primary goal of the unit, which started in October 2009, is to promote public safety and help probationers avoid further crime and violence through effective supervision, education and social services. The unit helps those “cope” with reentering society by teaming up with more than 25 social service agencies.
"We are so impressed with the C.O.P.E. Unit and I'm hopeful that other communities will follow the lead of the Ft. Myers Police Department in establishing similar units to combat recidivism and promote public safety," said Corrections Secretary McNeil.
In addition, last week Department of Corrections probation officers teamed up with FMPD officers to search the residences of 21-offenders. Only five were found violating their probation. Police found the other 16 were taking advantage of C.O.P.E. programs in their re-entry to society and making a significant attempt to turn their lives around.
“We are so pleased with the C.O.P.E. program and honored to receive the award” said Chief Baker. “We feel the C.O.P.E program has great potential if last week’s operation is an indicator of what is yet to come.”