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Citizens Advisory Council addresses gun violence in Tallahassee

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 7:35 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Tallahassee Police Department’s Citizen Advisory Council is holding a town hall to gain insight into what’s behind the recent uptick in violence in Tallahassee.

The council called the meeting in the wake of three shootings last weekend: one at Griffin Heights apartments, one near FAMU’s Bragg Stadium and the third at Cascades Park.

All of the shootings happened within eight hours. Five people were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

“It impacts me so deeply, because I know the effects of gun violence,” Council Chairman Rudolph Ferguson said. “I’ve had to bury friends due to gun violence. I’ve had to eulogize friends, children who have been gunned down.”

Ferguson says it’s not just the job of police to address the issue of gun violence.

“Their job is to find the who,” he said. “Our job is to find the why. And once we get that, I believe we’ll be able to do things better.”

But the question of why Tallahassee had three shootings last weekend doesn’t have an easy answer.

“This is getting out of character for the city,” Deputy Chief Tonja Smith said. “We’re just seeing a lot more activity on the weekends now.”

Police say a lot of this violence involves young men.

Council members hope many young people will attend tonight’s town hall.

“If you got kids, bring ‘em,” Ferguson said. “I reached out to my own neighbors because I know they have kids, and asked them to bring them because I really want this room, this building to be filled with young people.”

Smith said one factor working against the police department in that some are reluctant to call the police to report crimes.

“There’s a lot of distrust with police,” she said. “I could just sit on people’s porches back in the 1990s. Now I don’t think people are as open to talk to us.”

The council’s goal is to not only address gun violence, but also bridge the gap between police and the community. The group hopes to take the ideas brought up in the town hall and submit those to the chief of police and the mayor.

“I’m only one man, and we’re only one council,” Ferguson said. “But together we are one Tallahassee.”

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