There were guns galore and lots of husky guys in black uniforms. Not to worry. The event was Lunch with the Chief sponsored by the Marco Island Police Foundation on February 17th at the Hideaway Beach Club. The Men in Black were Marco’s Finest, the police who insure the safety of residents and visitors. It was also the occasion for the Foundation to honor retiring Detective Glenn Zirgibel as Policeman of the Year. It was his second such award. County Commissioner Donna Fiala and Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott took time from busy schedules to attend the luncheon at Hideaway Beach Club.
In the absence of Foundation President Bill Morris, Jose Granda led the program devoted to honoring Detective Zirgibel and receiving an update on Marco Island’s crime situation. Prior to the briefing by Marco Island Police Chief Don Hunter, the estimated 80 attendees enjoyed the presentation of a commemorative anniversary badge from Sheriff Scott on behalf of the Lee County Sheriff’s department.
Detective Zirgibel was instrumental in solving acomplex burglary case in which valuable jewelry was stolen from a Marco Island residence. The jewelry was later pawned, and Detective Zirgibel was able to trace the trail of the 14 carat diamond across state lines and finally back to Collier County. The perpetrator was identified and arrested thanks to the dogged detective work and painstaking research by Detective Zirgibel.
Chief Hunter reported that crime in Collier County and Marco Island has increased. Fortunately, the 213 Marco Island reported crimes are almost all involving property rather than crimes against persons. The Chief emphasized the need to lock residences and car doors and to use the alarms installed in some homes.
With regard to the overriding question, “How Safe Are We?” the Chief stated that we are very safe as to our persons, but that there are too many burglaries. He also pointed out that there has been a ransacking of a residence, believed to be the work of a career criminal. According to the Chief, “Eight percent to ten percent of the population commits eighty to ninety percent of crimes.” A careercriminal is identified as one who has had three or more felony convictions in the past five years. Marco Island’s Police Department has detailed knowledge of the nine career criminals on Marco Island.
There are no gangs on Marco Island, but there has been an arrest of one Florida West Coast “Blood” member, and there have been two Collier County arrests of members of “MS13” a particularly vicious Central American gang.
The Marco Island Police Department is also knowledgeable about sex offenders and is participating in the “Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force”. There aren’t any outlaw motorcycle gangs on the island, although there is a chapter of one such organization in Charlotte County.
The Chief also swore revenge against the Fire Rescue Softball game for last year’s thumping. This year, as a part of a Community Day for the family there is the second annual softball game featuring “The Bravest v. The Finest.” Attendance is free at Winterberry Field, beginning at 11:00AM on March 3rd. There will be a number of events, free popcorn, lots of good food at excellent prices and items for sale.