Meet Cape Coral Police Chief David Newlan

“You’re only as good as the team around you” ~ Cape Coral Police Chief David Newlan

Meet Cape Coral Police Chief David Newlan

This is true in all aspects of life, in our careers, in our families, and certainly in our community. We are very fortunate to live in such a great community with public support.

Born and raised in Florida, David Newlan experienced many different communities growing up with his dad working as a contractor. Ultimately, in 1977 the family established roots in Cape Coral when the city was still young. Newlan went to Caloosa Middle School and Cape Coral High School. He got to see the area grow; he remembers riding his bike to the dolphin pools that used to be where Tarpon Point now is; he remembers when there was no Veteran’s Parkway.  

While in college studying sports medicine, Newlan went on a ride-along with a friend that worked for the police department. It was then that he realized what he really wanted to do.  Many of the guys he worked out with at the gym worked for the department and encouraged him to apply.

Meet Cape Coral Police Chief David Newlan

Newlan was hired in January of 1991 by the Cape Coral Police Department, went to the police academy and passed the State of Florida Law Enforcement Certification Exam. From there he went through the department’s mini-academy and then completed their field training program. He was assigned to a senior officer who observed and worked with him, a year’s worth of training before he was in his own patrol car.

When Newlan first started, the Cape was divided into 5 zones, one officer per zone with a traffic unit and a K-9. Today, because of tremendous growth and land mass, it is divided into 3 districts with 5 zones per district.

Newlan loved being on patrol, it’s the backbone of the department, “You’re always learning” he said. After a few years on the job, he became a Traffic Homicide Investigator, responding to serious injury or fatality calls.  Then he became a Field Training Officer. There are many specialty areas in law enforcement, so he applied for the Narcotics Unit and became a detective as a part of CLEAN (Combined Law Enforcement Against Narcotics) under the umbrella of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. It was a task force including officers from Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Sanibel and Lee County. They worked together to investigate drug cases. He was then asked to become part of the DEA Federal Task Force where he went undercover.  “It was a great experience, I loved it. It was probably one of the best times of my career, I felt very lucky, as very few people get the opportunity to work on task forces.”

After seven years on the task force, Newlan returned to the department and was assigned to the drug unit, and then to the major crimes unit.  He was eventually promoted to Sergeant and went back to where it all began, in Patrol, working nights and loving it. It reminded him of why he loved and respected this profession.

A few years later, the Chief at the time asked if he wanted to be assigned to the Professional Standards Bureau, working with personnel, training and internal affairs. He realized this was an opportunity, and an important step if he wanted to continue to promote through the ranks.  It was an “eye opener.”  Newlan learned a lot about the city, about hiring and training, about internal affairs and accreditation and light duty issues. From there he was promoted to Captain and assigned to the South District within the Patrol Bureau, then eventually returned to the Professional Standards Bureau, and then to the Investigative Services Bureau.

Meet Cape Coral Police Chief David Newlan

Newlan has seen the city grow; his roots are deep, he has raised his children here, and all but one are raising their families in Cape Coral (including 3 grandchildren).  He emphasizes that “this is our community, we have families and loved ones here, and it’s important to all of us to keep the community safe.”

Over his tenure, Newlan had the opportunity to work in many different aspects of the police department, which he believes helped him get to where he is today.  In May of 2016, he was sworn in as Interim Chief and is now our Chief of Police.

As he reflects on the history of his career in the Cape, he says that the recession caused a major change in the department. Capital purchases were frozen, department employees took pay cuts and endured mandatory furloughs, and the department went to virtual roll calls; they found ways to save money wherever they could. Things had become so bad, that there were times when a patrol vehicle would break down on the way to a call.  The general public were losing jobs and homes were being foreclosed. Officers were empathetic to the public, reluctant to give speeding tickets because of the economic downturn.  Empathy, but also a commitment to keep things safe were at the forefront of the department’s concern.

Meet Cape Coral Police Chief David Newlan

It’s important to know where you’ve been so that you can plan better for the future. In addition to traffic and technology advancements, Chief Newlan’s vision includes vital input from the community in the form of community policing. “It’s so important to reach out to the community, get their input, and let them know what we are doing.” Cape Coral Police Department hosted an open house at the police department, and continue to hold town hall meetings and workshops; they held Pizza with Police, and have monthly Community Face-to-Face events (alternating between businesses and residential neighborhoods.) The response has been overwhelming and incredibly supportive. The public is asked to identify problems and suggest solutions in an effort to discuss problem solving together. The police department appreciates the on-the-ground local input and is serious about being accountable and addressing issues. They realize, too, that brainstorming ideas and working collaboratively will improve our community and, ultimately, our lives.

The Cape Coral Police Department is an organization that considers itself family and our entire city benefits from their commitment. The open lines of communication that have been established between the community and the Cape Coral Police Department prove that we are much better and safer with our Chief of Police David Newlan at the helm, who is “open-minded, always learning, and flexible enough to change with the environment.”

Thank you, Chief Newlan, for your dedication and for making our city an excellent place to live and work.

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