Toledo, OH – Fort Myers Police Department (FMPD) Chief Derrick Diggs died on Feb. 15 after a battle against cancer.
The 67-year-old police chief passed away peacefully at ProMedica Toledo Hospital surrounded by his friends and family, according to his obituary.
His son, Lucas County Sheriff’s Sergeant Derrick Diggs, said Chief Diggs had been battling cancer and had been on medical leave in July of 2022, The Toledo Blade reported.
Chief Diggs graduated from DeVilbiss High School, where he was quarterback of the football team, The Toledo Blade reported.
He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2013, according to his obituary.
Chief Diggs went on to play football at Adrian College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and political science.
He later continued his studies and earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Toledo.
Chief Diggs had aspired to become a law enforcement officer since a Toledo police sergeant came to visit his class back in elementary school, according to his obituary.
He fulfilled his childhood dream when he joined the Toledo Police Department (TPD) in 1977.
Chief Diggs rose steadily through the ranks during his decades of service with the TPD, working in multiple units and sections before he was appointed as the agency’s first African American police chief in 2011, according to his obituary.
After he retired from the Toledo police, he moved to Florida and took the helm of the Fort Myers police in June of 2016, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.
The FMPD announced Chief Diggs’ death in a press release on the morning of Feb. 15.
“Chief Diggs, an Ohio native, has served over 46 years in law enforcement with his last years committed to the City of Fort Myers and its residents,” the agency said. “Words are insufficient to describe the commitment to service and dedication that were of top importance to him.”
“What Chief Diggs accomplished during his tenure with the Fort Myers Police Department will forever leave an impression on police work within this department. Through his leadership, the Fort Myers Police Department has grown and elevated its level of service and respectability,” the FMPD said.
“Our thoughts are with Chief Diggs family, friends, and colleagues both past and present, through this difficult time,” the department added.
“He was a Chief made for the 21st century,” his obituary read. “He embraced the use of technology to improve police service. He was nationally known for his use of intelligence-led policing which tracked crime patterns and led to reduced crime.”
Chief Diggs also understood the importance of having close relationships with community members and partners, and he focused a great deal of his attention on community engagement programs in both Toledo and Fort Myers.
“He was committed to officers who worked for him and mentored a generation of future leaders on both Departments,” his obituary read.
Former Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, who appointed Chief Diggs as the TPD chief in 2011, described the longtime lawman was a “natural Leader,” The Toledo Blade reported.
“People were able to follow him easy, because he was so direct in his approach. Not only would he set up a target that needed to be met but would give people resources and hold them accountable,” Bell noted. “He didn’t micromanage. He told them where they needed to be and what they needed to achieve. They reacted in a positive way.”
Florida Governor Greg DeSantis issued a memorandum on Feb. 24 ordering flags to be lowered to half staff in Chief Diggs’ honor.
“Diggs was dedicated to making the Fort Myers community a safer place,” DeSantis wrote. “During his time as Chief, he introduced the department to new technologies that resulted in a significant reduction in violent crimes. Today the city’s police department is one of the most advanced in the nation.”
“Chief Derrick Diggs will be remembered for his commitment to the city of Fort Myers and the difference he made in the lives of others,” the governor added.
Chief Diggs leaves behind his son, Sgt. Diggs, as well as his sister and three grandsons, according to his obituary.
He is also survived by many friends and extended family members.
“Derrick will be remembered as a loving and supportive father and grandfather,” his obituary read. “He will also be remembered as a passionate but kindhearted police officer, public servant, and leader who was committed to serving his community and serving those in need.”
Chief Diggs was laid to rest in his hometown of Toledo on Feb. 25.
JUST IN: Gov. Ron DeSantis orders flags at half-staff to honor former Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs, who passed away on Feb. 15 at the age of 67
"Diggs was dedicated to making the Fort Myers community a safer place." pic.twitter.com/vgNojSGoHX
— Florida’s Voice (@FLVoiceNews) February 24, 2023
We will be updating with a local public memorial service agenda, honoring the life of Police Chief Derrick Diggs, in the very near future. Please look for updates on our social media pages. pic.twitter.com/s47pRiRYmw
— Fort Myers Police (@fortmyerspolice) February 17, 2023
I am truly saddened to hear of the untimely passing of @fortmyerspolice Chief Derrick Diggs.
On behalf of the LCSO, I wish to extend my profound sympathies to Chief Diggs’ family, and his extended family at FMPD who served alongside him.
-Sheriff Carmine Marceno pic.twitter.com/NDKHdOYPLw
— Carmine Marceno – Florida’s Law and Order Sheriff (@SheriffLeeFL) February 15, 2023
FDLE joins with the law enforcement community in remembering one of our respected public servants. Chief Derrick Diggs of the Fort Myers Police Department recently passed away. Thank you for your service. #lawenforcement pic.twitter.com/GeTrV7RtnG
— FDLE (@fdlepio) February 16, 2023
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Fort Myers Police Department (FMPD) Chief Derrick Diggs, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.