Local agencies join forces to reduce crime as a collective

By: Mariel Carbone
June 29, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- In an ongoing effort to reduce crime in the Capital City, law enforcement agencies from across the county met Thursday to develop a partnership for moving forward.

The Tallahassee Police Department, Leon County Sheriff's Office, FSU Police, FAMU Police and TCC Police, as well as representatives from the City of Tallahassee, Big Bend Crime Stoppers and the City Attorney's Office met to discuss the formulation of the Public Safety Collective.

"We know it's not something that can work without the participation of all the law enforcement agencies, our businesses and our residents," said Cynthia Barber, Assistant City Manager with the City of Tallahassee.

The group developed several strategies on how to move forward.

One includes enhancing data sharing and communication. Right now, TPD and LCSO are on the same computer-aided dispatch system, or CAD. However FSU, FAMU and TCC police do not use this system.

"If we are all on the same system, sharing that information we can be more effective and efficient not only during the primary response to the call, but when we're doing the strategic decisions on how to allocate resources," said TPD Police Chief Michael DeLeo.

The three other agencies will look into joining this system, or look at other ways to better share data. CAD tracks all calls for service for TPD and LCSO and stores the data for crime analysis.

Another, strategy includes targeting crime "hot spots" and enhancing efforts in those areas.

"A lot of it is in dense populated areas," said David Folsmon, Chief of Staff with the LCSO.

Other areas include vacant homes or lots and locations that may have code violations, which tend to invite criminal activity. LCSO and TPD plan to get together over the coming weeks, identify problem areas, and bring that information back to the collective.

Folsom did warn that being more aggressive on the front end, and making more arrests, does have an effect on the back end. He expects the Leon County Jail to reach capacity within the next few years.

The group also wants to tap into community leaders. There are about 140 neighborhood associations. The collective wants to give leaders in each neighborhood the resources to identify, report and prevent crime.

"Individually if you take ownership and you go look your neighbors in the face and you talk with your neighbors about how you can help and what they can do, I think that'll go a long way as opposed to government coming in and telling or asking people to do that. But, neighbor to neighbor and saying to our neighborhood, 'this is not acceptable,'" said Barber.

Members from the various agencies agreed that a change has to come from the residents and that citizens must be willing to report crime, inform law enforcement of activity and show that criminal activity is not acceptable. They also said it comes down to a quality of life issue. If they are living in poor conditions and with no hope, it's more likely that they'll accept crime in the neighborhood.

The group agreed it's not a numbers game and the focus must be on making the community safer. State Attorney Jack Campbell warned about comparing crime rates to other cities, as the circumstances are different in each area.

The group plans to meet again in about three weeks with updates on progress.

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