Bond community honors TPD chief, officers


By St. Clair Murraine

Outlook staff writer

Police officer Tim Murphy seemed taken aback when his name was called to receive an award. It was as if he was wondering why. The answer came as Murphy slowly strolled to the center of the room at Smith-Williams Service Center Annex. Jacqueline Perkins re-called the day a resident of Bond called her to show pictures of Murphy on the job at Bond Elementary School. Murphy was captured high-fiving and saluting children as he walked them across the street. “I think that’s a positive message,” Perkins said, alluding to reports of the police-involved shooting of Black men across the country.“It’s a significant contrast to what we are accustomed to seeing. “I’m not glossing over the fact that we have a complicated relationship but I wanted to take one day to let the police department know that we appreciate them for what they do in our neighborhood.”

TPD chief Michael DeLeo was honored for his leadership.

Perkins, who chairs the Greater Bond Neighbor-hood Association’s safety and crime prevention committee, was the driving force behind a program that was staged last week to give recognition and show appreciation to Tallahassee Police Department officers. Working in conjunction with the Bond neighbor-hood, TPD has drastically reduced crime in the area. Perkins said the event was put on in part to help strengthen the relationship between Bond and TPD. “Nobody else would come to a community where people are openly selling drugs and where people are prostituting and doing all those things,” Perkins said. “We have come together and it’s made a huge difference.” Citing TPD’s efforts in other neighborhoods, Chief Michael DeLeo said Bond is an example of what could happen when a neighbor-hood gets actively involved with law enforcement. The Greater Bond Neighborhood Association took the initiative by drawing up plans to revitalizing the infrastructure of the area and it was recently awarded $6 million by CRA to fund the project. Meanwhile, TPD installed surveillance cameras in the neighborhood and intensified its presence, leading to the reduction of crime.

The involvement of residents was the first step, De-Leo said. “That’s what it’s about,” he said. “It’s not just the police department getting the change in the community. It’s about the community wanting change and the police wanting to support them. “There is no success if the community is not safe. Having them say thank you and recognizing the work of the men and women is just wonderful.” DeLeo was given a leadership award, while a group of officers who patrol the neighborhood also were recognized. The Hartsfield Elementary Chorus also paid tribute to the officers with a song titled “We Appreciate You,” bringing the audience to its feet. Deputy City Manager Cynthia Barber, who worked as a liaison between Bond and City Hall, also was recognized with the Neighborhood First Leadership Award. A highlight of the event was the presentation of the Titan Award to James Morgan, the first Black major with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.

Morgan, 84, spent 50 years in law enforcement, the last 13 as a sheriff’s deputy in Gadsden County. He and his wife, Joann still live in Bond, where they raised their children. During his early years with Leon County Sheriff, Morgan said he wasn’t allowed to arrest White suspects. While that was frustrating, Morgan said, being in law enforcement was his dream job. “I was able to work with everybody; Black and White,” he said. “I got to know everybody and once they got to know me, there was no problem.”