City Commission to look at new noise ordinances in response to parking lot parties

City looking at new noise ordinances
City looking at new noise ordinances(WCTV)
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 7:05 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Tallahassee City Commission is hoping to crack down on loud parking lot parties after complaints from nearby residents.

The Tallahassee Police Department says the events often end in violence, including homicide. One example was in July of 2020, when a large group of people prevented officers from responding to gunshots at a gas station party at the corner of Orange Avenue and Springhill Road; that person later died.

TPD told Commissioners that while they’ve taken steps to deal with the issue, their legal authority is limited.

Deputy Chief Maurice Holmes updated Commissioners on the situation at Wednesday morning’s retreat.

Holmes said TPD created a task force with other departments to respond to the issue, but as of the fall of 2021, they were on their own to staff it. It has eight officers and a supervisor, and the group operates every weekend, traveling to different party locations.

Holmes said under the current noise ordinance, an officer cannot be a complainant; that means in order to do anything about the loud music, they have to be responding to a resident complaint.

“It lacks giving officers, police officers, law enforcement, the authority to make a proactive and discretionary decision to address these violators. In essence, how we like to say to keep it simple, the ordinance has no teeth,” Holmes explained.

A map of the eight locations where TPD finds the parking lot parties included primary locations and after-party spots; they were spread throughout the City. Some included Good Vibes Only, Baja’s, and Primetime.

Holmes pointed to The Venue on North Monroe Street as a positive example, saying the property owner has been working with TPD to address the issue.

Commissioners told the City Attorney they want to see the new ordinance as soon as possible.

Holmes told Commissioners that since the crowd, TPD has spent 792 hours patrolling the events, and 66 weeks battling the issue.

“The total estimated cost of the crowd control operation since it started, just for TPD, is $266,280.96,” Holmes said.

Public safety update

During Wednesday’s retreat, Commissioners also heard from TPD Chief Lawrence Revell about public safety.

Revell said there were 29 homicides in 2020, including three officer-involved shootings. That number dropped to 18 homicides in 2021.

Revell said violent crime is up nationwide, but crime overall is trending down.

He said TPD is implementing “Handle With Care” at schools, assisting children who have been impacted by crime, and the department is running its real time crime center.

Revell said TPD’s solve rate for violent crime is around 82 percent.

He also said he plans to continue his partnership with the City’s TEMPO program, which connects disconnected youth with schooling and employment.

TEMPO program shares zero percent recidivism data

The TEMPO program’s founder, Dr. Kimball Thomas, shared numbers with the City Commission during the retreat as part of an update on the strategic plan.

The plan has a goal of reducing the number of disconnected youth by 30%; TEMPO is already at 22.36%.

Dr. Thomas said the program has 110 participants enrolled in higher education.

He also discussed the findings in the Leon County Sheriff’s Office’s Anatomy of a Homicide report, which shows young African American are both victims and perpetrators of violent crime.

Thomas said there are 265 African American males in the TEMPO program; 93% had a previous offense. Not a single one of those men have reoffended.

The TEMPO program has a zero percent recidivism rate. TEMPO has partnered with the State Attorney’s office for an educational overlay program and also has a court diversion program with the Public Defender’s office.

“No question. TEMPO is getting the job done,” Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox told Dr. Thomas. “You and your team are showing that it’s not just talk. You’re doing the work.”

“I think everybody you reach and impact; that’s tremendous,” Commissioner Jeremy Matlow told Thomas.

Dr. Thomas also said there are upcoming initiatives awarded and funded for January of 2022, including a re-entry grant to impact more than 100 formerly incarcerated participants and a credential attainment grant to impact BIPOC participants.

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