Leon County Sheriff’s Office’s ‘Anatomy of a Homicide’ project shows higher amount of deadly violence among young people
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Leon County Sheriff’s Office’s “Anatomy of a Homicide” project looks at more than 100 homicides from 2015 to 2020.
One notable trend is the high amount of crime among young people.
The 15-to-24-year-old age group accounts for the highest number of victims and offenders.
The report also shows the victims and offenders of the deadly crimes are overwhelmingly young, black males.
The number of black victims is four times the number of white victims, and the number of black offenders is almost five times the number of white offenders.
The report says the majority of homicides are committed with firearms, which are often not legally owned.
Tallahassee Urban League President Curtis Taylor is calling on the community to speak up and help law enforcement put a stop to violence.
“We have a serious, serious problem with gun violence. All around us we have people getting shot, people getting killed,” Taylor said. “The next bullet could be your family member, your child, your daughter. It could be you.”
The majority of homicide offenders have committed violent crime before; many committed crime as juveniles.
Taylor says the issue starts at home.
“They’re around guns, they’re around gun violence. They’re around drugs, they’re around illegal activities. And so we wonder at the end of the day, why are our young people shooting each other and killing each other? This is the environment that they grew up in,” he said.
Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil says the data shows there need to be interventions at an earlier age, especially for young people impacted by trauma.
“They are in situations where they’ve seen a parent in a stressful situation, and they’re dealing with those same stressful situations. One of the things we have to change the narrative about is that it’s okay for these parents and these kids to get into counseling,” McNeil said.
The report also shows issues in the relationship between young people and law enforcement.
Taylor wants to see community events giving residents the opportunity to meet police on a more personal level.
“Our youth see our police department as dangerous, someone that’s going to lock you up, or get killed and shot. We’ve got to change that image with our young people, and that’s why we need to have these regular community events,” Taylor said.
McNeil says law enforcement has internal work to do as well.
“57% of the kids that were interviewed basically said they did not trust the police, and in fact, said they believe the police are just as bad as they are,” McNeil said.
The Sheriff’s Office has put together a mental health response team, and McNeil says they are currently working on a team to address issues surrounding homelessness. He also says he intends to bring the idea for a Men and Boys Council to the City and County Commissions.
The Tallahassee Urban League has its 27th annual “Unity in the Community” event on Saturday, December 11th, from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Taylor says there will be a press conference about violence with local leaders and law enforcement at 11:30 on Georgia Street in Frenchtown.
He says the event will include food vendors, art vendors, free health screenings, and flu shots. The Urban League will also select a handful of families to have their utility bill covered.
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