Community leaders set goals for new chief of TPD, interim chief discusses plans

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Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
June 13, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Major Steve Outlaw will become the interim chief of the Tallahassee Police Department on July 6th, bringing 32 years of experience to the position.

Outlaw will not be a candidate to permanently replace outgoing Chief Michael DeLeo; Outlaw was set to retire at the end of the month before being selected to serve as the interim chief.

Chief DeLeo submitted his letter of resignation on Wednesday, June 12th, effective on July 5th. He was Chief of TPD for five years.

Outlaw is focused on a smooth transition, hoping to continue the initiatives of DeLeo, keeping the focus on community outreach through the summer.

He said he believes some of the most important qualities in a future chief are the ability to be decisive and keep things in perspective.

His major goal during his tenure is to make it as easy as possible for a new face to step in.

"When the new chief gets here, he or she will just have a seamless transition," Outlaw said. Everything will continue to be up and running just like it is now, we'll make even further advances. So when they get here, it's just plug and play, they get to know their folks in the agency, they get to learn the community."

Many community leaders hold a high opinion of Outlaw.

"Major Outlaw is a wonderful guy I know he was about to retire, but I'm happy that he's agreed to stay on," said Talethia Edwards, the President of the Greater Bond Neighborhood Association.

Tallahassee Urban League Vice President Curtis Taylor agreed.

"Major Steve Outlaw, he's worked with us in all our programs in trying to turn around crime," said Taylor. "I think the City made a good choice."

Those leaders are also hoping the City of Tallahassee will look close to home for a permanent replacement.

"There's been a lot of different controversy about the chief and him promoting people and people not getting their just due," said Edwards. "Hopefully there are officers that are in place ready to take that position, and they already know what's happening!"

Longtime Frenchtown resident O'Neal Jackson agreed, saying it would be nice to choose a person with ties to the area.

He also hopes to see officers with more experience patrolling the Frenchtown area, rather than "rookies."

"Let's have some veteran cops. Take the rookie cops and let's put them in what we call the low crime areas," said Jackson.

The Tallahassee Urban League hopes to be involved in the selection process of the new chief.

"Some of our young people do not see police officers as good individuals, some of them see them as the bad guy, and we've got to change that," said Taylor.

Outlaw offered advice to his eventual successor.

"It's real easy to get into this line of work and think it's all about enforcement, and it's not. We do very little enforcement. We do a lot of relationship building, we do a lot of mediation. We do a lot of enforcement when we need to and we do it with resolve," Outlaw said. "You can't take a cookie cutter approach. What works in one city may not work here, what works in one part of town here may not work in another part of town here."

DeLeo leaves TPD after a rocky tenure, but Jacqueline Perkins, the Chair of the Bond Neighborhood's Crime and Safety Prevention Committee, was happy with his work.

She honored TPD and Chief DeLeo in February, saying the crime rate in that neighborhood has decreased by almost 30%.

Perkins told WCTV over the phone that she believed Chief DeLeo excelled in community policing efforts.

Many hope his successor will have the same strength.