By: Edan Schultz
June 2, 2015
Tallahassee -- Leaders in Florida's capital city say a recent spike in shootings is unacceptable.
Tuesday afternoon, they unveiled a new effort called "Operation Safe Neighborhoods," aimed at stopping the rise in violent crime.
"The circumstances that bring us here today are very troubling," said Leon County Sheriff Mike Wood.
Officers have responded to a series of shootings in recent weeks, including three within a few hours on May 30.
The "Operation Safe Neighborhoods" plan would put more police on the streets, add activities for young people, and start a community crime watch in key neighborhoods.
Mayor Andrew Gillum lead a large group of city and county leaders announcing the effort.
Gillum called the recent violence "absolutely intolerable" and said, "we're prepared to do something about it."
The plan is to speed up hiring of 15 new police officers. The process will start in June, instead of when the new fiscal year starts in October.
The city will also fund more officer overtime to step up patrols and dispatch its police mobile command unit in key neighborhoods.
Deputy police chief Darrell Furuseth said the increased presence will "Provide deterrents, visibility, increased community relations with our citizens, availability, provides us a little more resources to do canvasses if we need to."
Beyond law enforcement efforts, there are plans to enhance programs for young people. That could include longer pool hours, free movie nights at Cascades Park, and basketball leagues at community centers.
Leaders say policing alone can't solve the issue.
"It's going to take our entire community to work through some of these issues, and we have to form those partnerships so that one hand knows what the other is doing," said City Manager Anita Favors Thompson.
The third part of the effort will be a community watch program in partnership with churches and community groups.
On Saturday nights throughout the summer, those groups will join police to walk the streets, hand out flyers and go door-to-door, in hopes of creating an atmosphere of safety.
"We're going to be in neighborhoods passing out information to members of these communities to let them know if they see something please say something so that our law enforcement when required will be able to do something," said Mayor Gillum.
City leaders don't have details on how much these new efforts will cost or where the money will come from in the budget.
The city commission will need to approve the expedited hiring of officers.
The first shooting on May 30 took the life of D'Juante Tucker, a 22-year-old who was gunned down near Dewey and Preston Streets.
About a half hour later, police were called to a shooting on Putnam Drive. Officers say a small black sedan pulled up outside a home and a man started shooting an assault-type rifle from the passenger side. No one was hurt.
Around 10 p.m., there was another shooting on Ridge Haven Road. A 14-year-old was shot in the hand, and a 16-year-old was shot in the leg. They are expected to recover.
Police said all three shootings could be related to gang activity.
There were also three shootings within less than a week earlier in May.
On May 25, Christopher Seabrooks, 32, was shot and killed along Country Club Drive.
On May 22, a patron was shot by a bouncer during a fight at Cancun's Sports Bar & Grill on West Tennessee Street.
On May 20, David Queen, 29, was killed outside of the Plantations at Pine Lake Apartments.
News Release: Mayor Gillum's Office
June 2, 2015
Today Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum released the following letter regarding the recent violence in the city and the new "Operation Safe Neighborhood" initiative.
The letter reads:
The violence we have seen in our community these last few weeks has been deeply troubling, and is unacceptable in our city. Our community cannot and will not remain victim to violent crime, and it will take each and every one of us doing our part to bring forward a solution. That is why today we are launching Operation Safe Neighborhoods (OSN), an initiative focused on creating a safe and secure environment in the City through citizen action and engagement. OSN is made up of both short-term and long-term strategies that focus on the following:
Increasing Capacity for Law Enforcement
•Bringing an agenda item to request advance funding for additional TPD officers to our next City Commission meeting on June 17th, to help accelerate hiring and training processes for TPD officers.
•The City Manager will also authorize funds for increased overtime hours for TPD violent crime response teams focused on highest issue areas of the city.
•Utilize TPD’s Command Post vehicles to create mobile police sub-stations in high crime areas of the City to increase response times and create a safer presence.
Strengthening Strategic Partnerships and Programs
•Hold meeting of all local law enforcement leaders to develop joint-strategies and actions that enhance information-sharing and cooperation.
•Support and enable the “interrupter model” of crime prevention in Tallahassee put forward by the Council on Gun Violence, a set of evidence based models that have shown to reduce violence in other communities through conflict mediation, relationship building, and strategic diversion.
Growing Community Engagement and Response
•Create “Neighbors on the Block,” a summertime community watch program each Saturday from 7pm to 10pm in high crime areas that will allow citizens to walk the neighborhood, hand-out informational flyers, and create an atmosphere of safety. To learn more and sign up please visit: bit.ly/OnTheBlock
•Ramping up summertime youth programming through Splash and Jams, extended community center hours, and other community events.
To learn more about this initiative, click HERE.