City Reacts to a Proposed Referendum on a Law Enforcement Merger

Leon County is preparing ballot language for a proposed referendum on a law enforcement merger. A majority of county commissioners said last week they want voters to have their say, but that would need city approval too.

It wasn't a unanimous decision. The county commission decided in a five to two vote last week to move forward with the consolidation conversation with Tallahassee by coming up with some ballot language.

Leon County Commissioner Ed Depuy says he wants the issue of law enforcement consolidation resolved once and for all.

Ed Depuy says, "What's been proposed is coming up with some ballot language which we would put on a binding referendum, which will require city residents and unincorporated residents of Leon County to vote to approve this under an elected head of law enforcement."

Depuy says it's at least a starting point to get dialogue moving with the city of Tallahassee, but in order for a binding referendum to happen a majority of the city commission must approve.

Mayor John Marks says the city has not taken a formal position on law enforcement consolidation, and until it sees the proposed ballot language, will not take an official position on whether the city will agree to a referendum.

John Marks says, "I know that some commissioners at the city don't see the necessity of combining law enforcement, but they do see an issue with joint dispatch."

Joint dispatch is an issue at least most commissioners on both sides agree on. The question is who should be in charge. Proposed ballot language is at least the first step, Depuy says, in finding common ground on the issue that seems to keep coming back.
Consolidation has failed among Leon County voters in the past as recently as the early 90s.

As for the issue of joint dispatch, Depuy says he's expecting a report any day now from the consulting firm working with the city and county on that issue. Mayor Marks said that maybe that's the key; if the joint dispatch issues can be addressed then maybe the issues of consolidating law enforcement will go along with it.