Go-To Guy For Islanders
The Island Sand Paper would like to introduce our readers to the Lee County Sheriff's Office Community Police Officer for Fort Myers Beach - Deputy James Butler. While many business owners are likely already familiar with Deputy Butler, those who have yet to meet this easygoing and friendly officer need to know that he is the go-to guy whenever they have issues with those breaking the law.
Deputy Butler explained that his role in the Sheriff's Office is that of Community Police Officer and a member of the ‘Selective Enforcement Unit' - meaning that he and his team focus on areas of the Charlie (West) District where there are criminal issues.
"The community policing part of my job means that I get out with business owners and manage police issues as well as go one-on-one with beach residents,” he said. "I've handled literally hundreds of issues here like spring break, and events like the Fourth, and we're scheduled to be here for all events - such as Taste of the Beach - where we can interact with people and get to know them.”
Butler told us that he likes to keep an open line of communication with business owners so they feel comfortable calling him.
"Once they call in a complaint, if it's outside the boundaries of what a zoned deputy would handle - they do the day-to-day stuff so if it's something they can't put a lot of time into - we take care of it,” he said. "With the community policing aspect, we have open lines of communication with businesses in case there are issues with open containers, trespassers or employees that need to be investigated.”
Deputy Butler and his team also serve as catalysts to make sure that neighborhood problems get taken care of - for instance, he has been working with a local business owner in his ongoing issue with a nuisance neighbor.
"I'll get direct calls on my cell phone from business owners and residents who know that we'll be able to take care of an issue - they will talk to me and we'll come up with a plan of action.”
Butler told us that a typical day starts with him reading his emails and police reports to find out if there is something that pertains to his team's job function.
"Then I'll work with my team to correct certain issues - burglaries, ordinance violations, what have you,” he said. "It helps to know the names of those who commonly find themselves in trouble because it makes it easier to figure out the crimes with the usual suspects. If there's an investigation, then we report it to the case detectives.”
Butler told us that he hails from Chicago, Illinois, where - in 2004 - his business partner decided he wanted to live someplace warm.
"He and I were partners in the police force up there, and he came down here and kept calling me and asking me to come down, so we decided to start another business here,” he said. "We both also got jobs with the Lee County Sheriff's Office and became partners again. A couple of years ago, he got married and moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, so we sold the business and I stayed.”
James told us that he loves it here, and even though he misses his old friends, they frequently come down to visit.
"My dad comes and spends all winter, too, so that's fun,” he said. "Plus I have friends here and we're always off doing something fun - they're like a secondary family. Some of them have kids, and since I don't have any yet it's fun to hang out with them.”
Deputy Butler was recently appointed by Mayor Larry Kiker to be part of the Public Safety Task Force, something he enjoys.
"They ask me for guidance as far as the state statutes, and I get to put my two cents in from a law enforcement perspective,” he said. "I really like working with everyone on the task force - they're all so motivated and we are coming up with some great solutions.”
In a nutshell, Butler wants everyone to know that they can call him if they have problems. Call LCSO Charlie District to reach Deputy Butler, 477-1830.
"I want them to know that I'm out there to help all of us enjoy peaceful life on the island,” he said.