Cape Coral police chief retires after 30 years, soon to start new role with Lee County School District

Kaitlin Greenockle
 
| Fort Myers News-Press

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Cape Coral Police Department swears in 6-year-old honorary police officer

As Cape Coral Police Chief Dave Newlan retires after 30 years of service, he recalls swearing in Kayden Kafka as one of the most touching moments in his career.

After 30 years of service with the Cape Coral Police Department, one of the moments that most touched Chief Dave Newlan was granting a 6-year-old boy’s wish of becoming a Cape Coral police officer.

On Friday, Newlan’s retirement will go into effect and he will take on a new role with the Lee County School District.

Looking back, Newlan said being able to grant Kayden Kafka’s wish with the Kids Wish Network really puts things into perspective.

The network helps children with life-threatening conditions and those struggling with life-altering situations create fun memories.

Kafka was sworn in as an honorary police officer on Sept. 30, by Newlan in the department’s courtyard and presented with his own CCPD uniform shirt and badge. Kafta’s family, Mayor Joe Coviello, CCPD officers and staff attended.

“When we are able to do something like that it puts things in perspective and to me that’s what it’s all about,” Newlan said.

Policing wasn’t a career that Newlan imagined. He wanted to do something where he could help people and contribute, but it wasn’t until he went on a ride-along with a friend that he knew being a police officer is what he wanted. 

“When I was exposed to this I knew this is exactly what I wanted, and I didn’t look back,” Newlan said.

Newlan isn’t leaving CCPD just to leave, he will hit 30 years of service in February and he wasn’t ready to retire completely. He still wanted to do something, he said. 

On Dec. 1, he will start as executive director of Safety, Security and Emergency Management for Lee County School District. 

His new position will include going over current district policies and procedures to make sure they are prepared for security incidents, natural disasters or hurricanes were to happen, including other crises such as COVID-19.

The department has been his family for three decades, and he is going to miss it, he said. But he will still get to work with them in his new role and that is one of the great parts of his new job, he said.

“I think what I’ll miss is the comradery, the family and this community,” Newlan said noting what a great support the community has been to the police department.

One of the department’s biggest successes is having the trust and support of the community. Everyone wants the same thing – to keep the community safe, and that wouldn’t be possible without everyone working together, Newlan said.

“You can have the best policies and procedures in place, but if you don’t have the trust and support of the community you will not be successful,” he said.

Newlan said the department has a lot of talented people and up and coming leaders, and whoever becomes chief will have a great support system.

On Wednesday, Deputy Chief Anthony Sizemore was appointed as the department’s interim chief.

The Cape police chief’s job is one of the biggest in Lee County, keeping eyes on an approximate population of 199,503, according to the City Manager’s Office. 

It also has one of the largest number of employees at an estimated 337 employees, more than two thirds of them  sworn officers, according to the Cape Coral Police Department Multi Year Plan for 2018 – 2020, and a $41.6 million budget.

Sizemore has more than 24 years experience in law enforcement and  has served as the bureau commander for patrol, investigations, professional standards and the public affairs office, according to a City Manager’s Office news release on Wednesday. 

Newlan is looking forward to the challenge of his new role and seeing what he can do there with his three decades of experience.

“I want our kids, our future to be safe. I want our teachers and faculty to be safe, I want our parents to know their children are in good hands,” Newlan said.

Cape Coral Fire Chief Ryan Lamb became fire chief while Newlan was police chief. The two have had a great relationship and Newlan has been a great resource for Lamb to lean on.

Lamb said he speaks with Newlan several times a day and he has been a mentor and friend. 

The two have worked together through issues such as hurricanes and COVID-19, and Newlan is a valued peer who will be missed, Lamb said.

“I have children in Lee County School District and I can’t be more happy about him in his new role to keep our children safe,” Lamb said.

Lamb has also gone through the ranks with Sizemore, who he too has a good relationship with, and is excited to see what the future holds for the police department. 

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