Commitment to public safety yields results
By Cynthia S. Barber
Special to the Outlook
Commitment – that’s what it takes to both fight crime and support our law enforcement officers. Our community’s commitment to a new, collaborative approach is working. Crime in Tallahassee is down 14 percent since last year and is the lowest it’s been since 2013.
Guided by a five-year strategic plan, the Tallahassee Police Department, with support from the City Commission, is now taking an innovative, holistic, modern approach to policing strategies designed to reduce crime. Since 2015, TPD has gained budgeting for 55 new officers, established the Public Safety Collective, transformed its focus on community policing and enhanced neighborhood partnerships. This community-focused, multi-prong approach is producing results and has become a core component of TPD’s approach to law enforcement.
Through the Tallahassee Engaged in Meaningful Productivity for Opportunity (TEMPO) youth program, the City is reaching those most at risk and providing a better alternative through education and career training. The program’s target demographic – youths age 16-24 who are out of work and out of school – represent, according to data, Tallahassee’s largest gun violence victims and offender pools. Other efforts, like the Neighborhood Public Safety Initiative (NPSI), are engaging neighbors in working to identify and remedy issues that could contribute to crime, such as broken street lights and illegal dumping.
Connections with other agencies are also vital to continuing to reduce crime. The Public Safety Collective, led by Chief Michael DeLeo, has enhanced collaboration between partners. Agencies have improved their information sharing and deepened their commitment to mutual support.
Beyond community engagement, technology is aiding in the fight against crime. To support the efforts of TPD, the Commission voted in December 2017 to approve more than $315,000 in grant funding that is being used for equipment upgrades and enhanced technology, including purchasing safety cameras. The first set of safety cameras, which were installed in the Bond neighborhood, have had a positive impact as demonstrated by a reduction in calls for service near the camera locations. Technologies like this help deter crime and aid in investigations.
To sustain this downward trend in crime, the City of Tallahassee continues to ensure TPD and its officers have the resources and support they need. The City Commission has taken steps toward the creation of a new Public Safety Campus as outlined in the five-year plan. TPD’s new, full-service facility will allow the department to meet the current and future strategic and operational needs of the community, while also creating a space where officers can build stronger bonds with residents. Staff has begun the process of acquiring land for the new campus on the City’s south side.
During its nearly 200-year history, the Tallahassee Police Department, which is recognized nationally as being one of the longest accredited law enforcement agencies in the country, has developed a distinguished history of fighting crime and being a leader in innovative police services. Guided by its core values of trust, loyalty and commitment with full support from city leadership, TPD continues to lead the way in many areas. From routine patrol services and forensic science to traffic safety and wellness checks, the men and women who work at TPD have one goal – make Tallahassee a safe place. This commitment to community is at the heart of modern policing, and it’s what’s working in Tallahassee.
Cynthia S. Barber is the Assistant City Manager, Community Engagement & Public Safety