Search committee wants community-minded TPD chief
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
Tallahassee’s next police chief will have to have a plan for impacting crime in the city as well as being able to establish a strong sense of community engagement.
That’s the consensus of several members of a Community Partners Committee, a city appointed group, that last week narrowed the list of candidates down to 10.
They made the choice from a field of 17 that was selected from an original field of 52.
The city began taking applicants for the top police job in July, soon after Michael DeLeo abruptly resigned. Longtime TPD officer Steve Outlaw has been in the interim role and is one of the 10 remaining candidates to replace DeLeo.
“They deliberated very thoroughly,” said city manager Reese Goad of the committee’s choices. “I was very pleased with the discussion about the qualities that they felt were necessary for our next police chief; about community and engagement.”
The push for TPD being more involved in neighborhoods has been a focus for several years. However, interest in having a better one-on-one relationship between TPD and neighborhoods has intensified in recent months because of a spate of shootings and other crimes.
The committee responsible for advancing the candidates will submit one more list of three to five, Goad said. The current 10 will have their first in-person interview with the committee on Nov. 4 before the list is trimmed again.
Essentially what the city needs is someone who could do “effective policing,” said committee member Mutaqee Akbar of the Akbar Law Firm. “I think the pieces will come together if we could get somebody who is real strong with that.”
The Bond neighborhood has seen proof of that, said Jacqueline Perkins, a former criminal justice recruiter who heads up law enforcement for Greater Bond Neighborhood Association. Programs such as Operation Safe Neighborhoods and the Community Oriented and Problem-solving Squad have been effective in her community, she said.
“When you have a relationship with law enforcement, things can get resolved,” Akbar said. “If the criminals know that things are able to get resolved because people are able to trust law enforcement to communicate with them, I think that brings down that criminal activity. I don’t think it’s anything new. I think that’s what we had before it became us versus them.”
The 15-member committee is made up of a cross-section of Tallahassee that includes law enforcement personnel, lawyers, faith-based and business individuals.
Up to this point of the interview process, the committee only knew what the candidates stated in written responses to 10 questions and their resumes. The upcoming face-to-face will be a huge help in the selection process, said Carolyn Cummings, an attorney who is representing the local chapter of the National Action Network on the committee.
“To me it was just hard to evaluate candidates based on the answers to 10 questions when you’re comparing 17 people,” Cummings said. “Anyway, I just primarily looked at their resumes, interest, experience and if they’ve been involved in situations that you consider a crisis to come up with my list.
“I particularly look at individuals that were already functioning as chief of police in other cities.”
A few of the committee members are especially concerned about having a chief that will want a constant and visible TPD presence in the Black neighborhoods.
Frenchtown and the Southside are two of the areas that need neighborhood policing, said Curtis Taylor, president of Tallahassee Urban League.
The next chief has to be “someone that will be willing to go that extra mile when you look at Frenchtown, Southside and Bond,” Taylor said. “Those areas need feet on the ground, people riding bicycles. We need surveillance cameras, a whole bunch of things.”
Adner Marcelin, who represents the NAACP on the committee, said his organization met to discuss specific that it would like the next chief to have. Their three main concerns are having a chief that comes with a crime-fighting plan, favors diversity and a willingness to engage the community, he said.
“What I’m looking for in a police chief is the answers for the constituents that I serve,” said Marcelin. “They raised these issues and I think we have to put a leader in place that can actually solve them.
“I don’t have a preference whether the candidate comes from the outside or the inside. I just think that we need to focus on picking the most qualified candidate – the candidate that would serve not only Frenchtown, but the entire city of Tallahassee.”
Ironically, only three of the remaining 10 candidates don’t have ties to Tallahassee. Six of the other seven each have worked for TPD, while Antonio Gilliam, an assistant police chief in St. Petersburg, is a Tallahassee native.
“We have already seen that this is a very competitive pool; that Tallahassee is a good place to work so we’ve got a lot of interest,” Goad said. “The candidates clearly will have to do their best to perform at their highest in terms of presenting themselves, past experience, what their ideology is and their approach.”
Remaining candidates for chief of TPD after being selected by Tallahassee’s Community Partners Committee:
• John Dale – Colonel and the Executive Director of the Department of Investigations in the Broward Sheriff’s Office. He also previously worked for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.
• Antonio Gilliam – Assistant Police Chief for the St. Petersburg Police Department, with more than 18 years of experience. He is a Tallahassee native and an FSU graduate.
• Argatha Gilmore – Chief of Police for Lake City, and a former TPD officer. During her time in Tallahassee, she was a Division Commander in the Southern Sector, Internal Affairs, Technical Services Division, Alpha District, Charlie District, and Special Operations.
• Steve Outlaw – Interim Chief of Police of TPD since former Chief DeLeo’s resignation in early July. He has been a member of TPD since 1987.
• Lawrence Revell – Major in the Criminal Investigations Bureau of TPD. He has also served as Major for the High Risk Offenders Bureau, the Special Response Team, and Captain for Research and Development. Revell has been a member of TPD since 1992.
• Glenn Sapp – Chief of Police for the Quincy Police Department since 2014, and the Assistant Chief from 2011 until then. He was also a member of the Tallahassee Police Department from 1988 until 2011.
• Lonnie Scott – Major in the Administrative Services Bureau Commander of TPD. He also previously served as member of the Gainesville Police Department in the capacities of Professional Standards and Support Services Bureau Commander and Emergency Manager for the City of Gainesville.
• Audrey Smith – Chief of the Department of Youth & Accreditation Services for the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. She was also a member of the Tallahassee Police Department from 1988 to 2017.
• Eric Smith – Deputy Chief in Orlando, and has been a police officer there from 1994 until 2005, before being promoted to Sergeant.
• Perry Tarrant – Assistant Chief of Police for the Seattle Police Department from 2015 to 2018. He has also worked for the City of Yakima, Washington as the Emergency Preparedness Director, and the Tucson Police Department as a Police Captain and Lieutenant.