Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott may be one of the most public public figures in our
community but it didn’t start out that way. “When I was first elected and well into my
second term I actually resisted being in our popular public service announcements and related opportunities, but the more I spoke to colleagues across the state and nation I realized the power of the forum. I am happy to speak to Rotary luncheons and similar groups but that is generally 40 or 50 people. Lee County today has close to one million residents and visitors at any given time and I can reach a couple of hundred thousand all at once with our lifesaving tips and advice.”
One of the most powerful and effective centered on the perils of teens driving and
texting. “The image of the daughter behind the wheel is a powerful message, that
taking your eyes off the road for just one second can lead to tragedy, is something
relatable to 99.99% of the general public.” Sheriff Scott points with pride that
production costs are paid for from forfeited dollars from drug arrests, transforming
these ill-gotten gains into life-saving community outreach sessions.
This mass-media marketing is necessary in a jurisdiction that covers over 1,000-square miles and is now quite different from the world of the young Mike Scott. A third-generation Lee County resident, Sheriff Scott recalls with nostalgia how dirt trails then are 6-lane roadways now, “and those changes pail compared to the experiences of my 86-year-old Mother, or listening to my grandparents before her.”
While he appreciates our commerce and economy, innovation and expansion, Sheriff Scott feels that change isn’t always for the better, and while realistic that the Fort Myers of his past is gone he hopes “we do not destroy the very things we live here for or moved here to appreciate – the beaches, natural beauty, spectacular weather. Our challenge as a community is to keep all this in balance with our growing residential base and tourism industry.”
Vitality is an essential component in his personal life as well. Outgoing and charismatic, with a broad smile and shoulders to match, Sheriff Scott
maintains a healthy lifestyle since his youth. “I was never the star but played
baseball and basketball though high school, then got into strength training in
college and that became a lifelong trend. I wish I had more time to devote to it today, but I can still do 100 pushups and easily pass any physical benchmark required of a law enforcement officer.” He jokes that perhaps his best workouts occur twice-aweek when he still cuts his own lawn with his walk-behind mower!
The Sheriff recently announced he will seek a 4th term in 2016. For a kid who grew up playing G.I. Joes and majored in Political Science with ROTC training at the University of South Florida, law enforcement may have been natural but politics never.
After standing on principle to defeat the incumbent in 2004, Sheriff Scott is
pleasantly surprised he has no regrets about this segment of his life. “It is an honor to be elected Sheriff of Lee County by the very residents I serve. Others in similar positions to me are there by appointment – a mayor and six or seven city council people name them to the job – and as such they only need to ensure that small group is happy. I have hundreds of thousands of constituents and I am as responsive to them as possible, for it is the citizens who hold my job in
their hands. This is not all bank robbers and murders but interacting with the public, and that is why I still have the same telephone number all these years later.”
Just as Lee County significantly evolved throughout prior decades, so has law
enforcement, and Sheriff Scott sadly relates that one of the biggest concerns of our
time is domestic terrorism. “It doesn’t have to be planes flying into skyscrapers, and
unfortunately one of the prime areas of concern now are public meeting places
such as churches and schools. The threat doesn’t just come from organized groups
but the mentally-ill or socially-challenged who slip through the cracks. In Lee alone
we have over 90,000 students on more than 100 campuses and that does not include private schools or universities. That’s a lot of book bags we hope are carrying nothing more than books – it’s quite a challenge.” Sheriff Scott recently
spoke to one of his predecessors who commiserated that societal issues
combined with technological innovations like cyberattacks make one four-year term
seem to him like 3 or 4 from the old days. So with challenges aplenty and over 25
years already in public service, why does The Smiling Sheriff still burn with the passion for another term?
“Every homeowner wants the best for their family – that’s how it is in the Scott
household with my wife and two kids; we’re always doing some improvement
for the betterment of everyone. Well, Fort Myers and Lee County are my homes.
They are the reason I started here as a young officer in the late 1980s, and remain my passion for service today. This is my home, and you take care of your home!”
Contact The Lee County Sheriff’s
Office at 239-477-1000 or at www.sheriffleefl.org, and for emergencies
call 911. Sheriff Mike Scott and The Lee County Sheriff’s Office –
Working to Keep Paradise Safe!