TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — City officials in Tallahassee are calling for more money to combat violent crimes rates after “social justice”-oriented solutions have failed to deliver.
City Commissioners are set to hear a proposal on Wednesday to increase funding for the police department due to violent crime trends.
The meeting agenda notes that the city has given over $31 million in recent years to fund “long-term, systemic investments to proactively address factors leading to violent crime in the community,” but that the strategic plan’s goal of reducing violent crime by 10% “continues to lag.”
Meanwhile, the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) has the second-lowest police department spending per capita and half the number of officers per capita than the national average, according to the agenda. City staffers are calling for funding to provide “increased patrols for critical times of need, expanded investigative resources, and the implementation of advanced technology.”
WHERE DID THE MONEY GO?
Recipients of the $31 million include “Neighborhood First plans, gun violence mitigation efforts” and several city-based initiatives: The Council on the Status of Men and Boys, Tallahassee Engaged in Meaningful Productivity for Opportunity (TEMPO), Tallahassee Emergency Assessment Mobile (TEAM) and Tallahassee Future Leaders Academy (TFLA).
Launched in 2022, The Council on the Status of Men and Boys seeks to “unify” different constituencies in the city in order to create a “multi-disciplinary plan for reducing homicides and non-fatal shootings.” The Council also seeks to “address the disparities and challenges men and boys experience in violence, criminal justice, education, employment, and health.”
The Council’s governing body is comprised of a diverse coalition of people, including a social worker, teachers, pastors, leaders of boys mentoring organizations, a “parent of a male youth whose son was involved in gun violence,” “community members with lived experience with the criminal justice system,” and “youth leaders (at-risk or truant youth ages 16–24).”
In March 2021, the city launched the Tallahassee Emergency Assessment Mobile (TEAM) unit pilot program to “divert non-violent mental health crises away from law enforcement to a designated response team,” Tallahassee Reports notes. The program receives funding from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Community Policing Development grant.
TEMPO – short for “Tallahassee Engaged in Meaningful Productivity for Opportunity” – promotes its programs as “an alternative to those who are most susceptible to crime as a victim, suspect or perpetrator.” The TEMPO Program launched a “generational poverty ‘Stop-Gap’ initiative in 2020. TEMPO’s website notes that it is modeled after Raise DC, a program in the nation’s capital that seeks to build “more equitable systems.”
CALLS FOR ABOLISHING THE POLICE
In September 2020, the city created the Citizens Police Review Board to “increase and demonstrate police accountability and credibility with the public.”
Late last year, the board came under fire after one of its members openly advocated for abolishing the police. The member was removed from the board and subsequently sued the city. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in March.
Almost three years after calls to “Defund the Police” reached a fever pitch nationwide, soaring violent crime rates have left many second-guessing the anti-police Black Lives Matter movement. According to NPR’s October 2022 analysis of FBI data, murder rates increased nearly 30 percent from 2019 to 2020 – the largest single-year increase ever recorded in the nation's history.