By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 13, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Tallahassee City Commission toured the Tallahassee Police Department on Wednesday.
The tour comes on the heels of public push back, and ahead of two town hall meetings on the proposed Public Safety Campus. The commission tabled the topic after public outrage over the $60 million price tag.
"In my mind, there is no doubt that we need a new facility. And we need to improve the infrastructure that we have for our first responders. We owe it to them so that they can do their job appropriately," said Mayor John Dailey.
The facility on Seventh Avenue was formerly the old Sealey Elementary School. And Dailey said, you can tell the building wasn't designed to house a police department.
Police Chief Michael DeLeo said space is limited. Evidence is stored outside in portables because there is no space inside. A gym meant to serve 500 officers and civilian staff members is dirty, and in some spots ceiling tiles must be removed so officers can work out because the ceiling is too low. There is no space to hold criminals on the property.
Witnesses, victims and suspects all use the same interview room, which can be problematic and force them to cross paths. There is no privacy for victim advocates, who meet with victims in open cubicles in the facility. And, on the day of the tour the air conditioner was broken, causing one portion of the building to become very warm.
"You just walk through the halls and it is completely apparent that for a city of 190,000 residents, we need to have a police department that matches the need of law enforcement in this community. This facility does not do its justice," said Dailey.
The proposed Public Safety Campus is set to be built where the Town South Center is on Orange Avenue and Monroe Street. However, some members of the public have criticized the city for what they call a lack of public input and high price tag. Many also fear the impact of losing the stores currently in that complex, including the Save A Lot grocery store.
Citizens can speak on the proposal next week. The commission will hold two town hall meetings. One on Monday night at The Tallahassee Senior Center and the second Tuesday at the Walker Ford Community Center. Both are from 6 to 8 p.m.