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Rotary Happenings: Lee County sheriff speaks to Rotary Club
June 11, 2019

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What a timely speaker we had recently at the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club meeting. Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno was in the house. Law enforcement officers are certainly tasked with enormous responsibilities to keep our communities safe these days from everyday crime, school shooting attacks, lone-wolf shooters, gun violence, terrorists, and the country's drug/opioid crisis.

Born and growing up in Bronx, New York, Marceno grew up in a neighborhood where everyone looked after each other, especially the kids - whose kid is that and where does he belong? The neighborhood patrol police where always looking after the kids, one policeman in particular - Tom Fascillo - would drive up to the kids in the neighborhood and really talk with them, he listened to them. That personal exchange made a difference in respect for the police and what they did. It made such an impression on Marceno that it inspired him to become a policeman himself. He loved his job and grew in the ranks, but when his father bought a vacation home in Naples for the family and Marceno experienced the warm weather, tropical breezes and beautiful beaches - he said to himself, "I could make Southwest Florida my home and still work in law enforcement." And that he did.

He transitioned to the Collier County Sheriff's Office and stayed there for 10 years, until a good friend and fellow law enforcement officer - former Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott - used some friendly persuasion to have him join the Lee County Sheriff's Office in 2013, serving as Scott's second-in-command with responsibilities including supervising department operations. Following in the footsteps of Scott and always trying to improve his knowledge base and experience in law, Marceno attended and graduated from the prestigious FBI National Academy Session 267 in 2017. In 2018 upon the retirement of Scott, Marceno was appointed Lee County's 13th sheriff by then Gov. Rick Scott in 2018. He has already kicked off his 2020 election campaigning for the continuation of his position as sheriff.

According to information from the LCSO Web site: "The Lee County Sheriff's Office is a multi-faceted law enforcement agency primarily responsible for law enforcement services in unincorporated Lee County, plus the City of Bonita Springs, the Village of Estero and Town of Fort Myers Beach. Deputies have countywide jurisdiction and provide secondary law enforcement services with the city limits of Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Sanibel. Other responsibilities include the operation of Lee County's correctional facilities and protection of its courtrooms. LCSO has approximately 1,600 sworn law enforcement personnel and civilian support staff to meet the needs of the county's nearly 700,000 residents."

The county is growing, and every day has its challenges. Recent headlines brought to light the ever-present need for fighting drug trafficking right here in our county neighborhoods. On May 29, Lee County Sheriff's deputies netted nine guns and seven arrests in an operation at Pine Manor in Fort Myers. One news outlet reported that the deputies served a search warrant in response to recent gun violence in the area. The LCSO confiscated three firearms, $21,696 in cash,7.1 pounds of marijuana, 817 grams of liquid THC pens, 34 grams of Methamphetamine, 95 grams of cocaine, 77 grams of Xanax, and 17 grams of Oxycodone/Hydrocodone.

Marceno said dangerous drugs will not be tolerated in Lee County.

Marceno is keenly focused on the safety of our county's kids - he has made it a department priority. Department officers are in all 120 schools in his area of command. Safety issues also are concentrating on kids from the time they head for school and after. Bus stop safety - how to focus on that has come to light recently and a high-priority green light has been given to the matter. From his early childhood experience with Fascillo, Marceno knows the influence police officers can have at an early age and hopes to inspire that kind of influence on the children of Lee County.

He believes in educating the public about safety and listening to public concerns for safety and having healthy thriving neighborhoods. Seeing, saying, make the call - that's the mantra for the public. Call the sheriff's office, let them know about suspicious unlawful activity in your neighborhoods, let them do their job and serve you. Drugs, child safety, domestic violence, home invasions, animal abuse, et cetera. A little factoid about animal abuse from Marceno: "71% of animal abusers go on to hurt people." Let's not let that happen, pick up the phone and report unsavory characters and activities, join forces with the LCSO and reduce crime and increase safety in Lee County.

For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary. The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are welcome to attend.

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