City and County leaders react to TPD Chief DeLeo's resignation

Published: Jun. 12, 2019 at 5:35 PM EDT
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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News

June 12, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo submitted his letter of resignation to city manager Reese Goad today, effective July 5.

The interim Police Chief will be Major Steve Outlaw, effective on July 6.

City manager Reese Goad said the City of Tallahassee will begin a nationwide search immediately.

"He has other opportunities and I certainly wish him well in his future endeavors and we've been fortune for his five years of service to Tallahassee," said Goad. "But those are hard jobs, and it's not unusual to have a police chief find other opportunities like that and we certainly wish him well."

Chief DeLeo has led TPD for the past five years, including a violent 2019 that has seen 36 total shooting incidents and 12 homicides.

City Commissioner Curtis Richardson said he hopes the new leadership will deal with staffing issues at TPD and continue what the current chief has begun.

"The community policing oriented approach has certainly got the department more in touch with our community," said Richardson. "He started the Youth Citizen Police Academy and that gives our young people an opportunity to interact with our law enforcement officers."

Despite well-received increases in community policing, DeLeo's tenure has not been without controversy.

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor called for DeLeo's suspension back in February, after a complaint directed to the Tallahassee Human Relations Council.

"The complaint which cited this chief's bias toward African American officers," said Commissioner Proctor.

That complaint accused DeLeo of passing over African American employees for promotions or raises.

The Big Bend Chapter of the Police Benevolent Association posted a statement, saying 86% of surveys defined DeLeo as an ineffective leader; the organization later retracted that statement.

DeLeo also faced an ethics complaint in 2015 about his relationship with a subordinate; it was unanimously dismissed.

After an officer-involved shooting, an arbitrator criticized the Chief in the complaint after the firing of Officer Pearson, citing inappropriate intervention by DeLeo. He argued that only after DeLeo reviewed the case, did the Internal Affairs officer change his finding.

Officer Pearson has since been reinstated, and DeLeo disputed the arbitrator's characterization of the situation.

Commissioner Proctor said he hopes the new chief will embody characteristics of previous leaders.

"Someone who has Walt McNeil and Tom Coe's integrity and virtue, the diversity of the police officers, and for the senior officers to reflect the demographic of the community," said Commissioner Proctor.

City Manager Goad praised DeLeo's strides in public safety, with TPD implementing community-oriented policing strategies and citizen focused initiatives.

DeLeo's departure comes at a busy time for TPD, with a high crime rate and in the midst of the search for the new Public Safety Campus.

Goad said the change of leadership will not slow down that process.

"We're going to continue doing those things that we're doing, we've got a process in place in particular for the next selection of TPD headquarters, and we'll continue that just as it was scheduled otherwise," said Goad.

City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox wished Chief DeLeo the best in his future endeavors, and stated that she wants to keep citizen engagement at the forefront during this new selection process.

City Commissioners Williams-Cox, Richardson, and city manager Goad all wished DeLeo the best in his future endeavors.

DeLeo's resignation letter can be seen attached to this story


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