The Marco Island Woman’s Club (MIWC) held their first meeting of the season at the Marco Island Yacht Club (MIYC). The ladies enjoyed a champagne toast, compliments of Chef Bob, toasting their return to the Yacht Club for season. Woman’s Club President, Christine Koppel, welcomed the ladies and opened the meeting before lunch was served.
As the ladies enjoyed their coffee and delicious pineapple upside down cake for dessert, Police Chief Al Schettino began his special presentation, “Marco Island Law & Order.” The Chief’s presentation encompassed the history of the Marco Island Police Department (MIPD), the changes over the years, the challenges they currently face, their goals to better serve the community, and the future of Marco Island.
“The MIPD was established in 2000 and started with 26 officers. There have been five chiefs since the inception,” began Chief Schettino, who has served as chief for four years. “Right now, there are 37 full-time officers, six reserve/auxiliary officers (who volunteer their time), two full-time detectives (who have cleared 86% of their cases), two full-time marine officers, some part-time marine officers, three full-time SRO officers in our schools, four support staff, and the Code Department (one full-time Community Service Officer, nine part-time CSO, and three support personnel).”
Marco Island is rated as the safest city in the state of Florida. Offenses included in the Crime Index total are the violent crimes of murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, and the property crimes of burglary, larceny theft, and motor vehicle theft. In 2000, before Marco had a police department, almost 400 Part 1 index crimes were reported. In 2016, that number was down to 96. In 2017, there were 133 Part 1 index crimes reported. That increase was due to the post-Irma increase of unethical out of state contractors charged with property crimes and fraud.
Challenges the department faces include “hiring and retaining personnel and increasing our trust in the community,” says Chief Schettino.
When asked about female officers, Schettino explained, “At this time MIPD does not have any female officers. Females represent 13% of all officers in the country. I hope we will add female officers to our department. If any of you or anyone you know is interested, let them know we will be holding interviews on October 25.”
Addressing the recent incidents in the news involving MIPD officers, Schettino said, “We fully investigate any wrongdoing suspected of our officer. It’s an embarrassment, and we hold them accountable. We want to make sure we have the right officers working in our department.”
Following a hearty thanks and applause for Chief Schettino, the ladies welcomed three new members: Gwyn Steiner, Mercedes Fabregas, and Patty Riche. The afternoon’s festivities concluded with the popular door prizes and raffle.
The Woman’s Club’s next meeting is 12 PM on Wednesday, November 7th at the MIYC, where they will collect food for the Marco Island Food Pantry. The meeting will feature “The Cat Comes Home!” by Betsy Perdichizzi of the Marco Island Historical Society. For luncheon reservations call Joyce Thayer (239-642-0733) or Vini Just (239-394-3635) by Thursday, November 1.