Leon County Commission votes to create Status of Men and Boys Commission to examine violence

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – In response to a report by Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil on the “Anatomy of a Homicide” project, the Leon County commission voted unanimously to create a status commission men and boys to focus on violence.

The Anatomy of a Homicide Project is a 90-page report on fatal crimes in Leon County from 2015 to 2020. It shows that violent crime is more common among young people and occurs disproportionately in zip code 32304.

At Tuesday’s Commission meeting, Sheriff McNeil spoke to elected officials about the project and how to move forward.

McNeil told elected officials that violence is not a problem law enforcement can solve on its own; he hopes for a holistic approach from the whole community.

“I don’t believe you can think of us to achieve 15%, 20% and 30% reduction in crime over the next 15 years on the path that we are taking. Something must change. And I hope this Commission on the Status of Men and Boys will be something that will initiate change, ”said McNeil.

McNeil says that as a sheriff, the collective efforts of the community have produced “several positive results.”

He said law enforcement needs to synthesize their evidence in an inclusive way and the community needs to look at issues in a social context and tackle structural barriers.

McNeil added that the research indicates that the community should consider strategies that also focus on institutional change, as well as on individuals committing crimes.

He highlighted several potential areas of work, including improving the physical environment, engaging and supporting young people, improving resource analysis systems, and effectively identifying and engaging stakeholders. , and identifying and engaging people at risk using promising programs.

McNeil concluded his comments by asking the Commission to establish the Commission on the Status of Men and Boys. He said his office had the capacity to establish the group, but said: “Law enforcement is not always a trusted vehicle for the message.”

“I think a Leon County Sheriff’s Office, County Board, City Board and other private partners would be better,” McNeil said.

Several commissioners were passionate about the report’s findings.

“This is a serious request,” County Commission Chairman Bill Proctor said. “I want to walk with Sheriff McNeil.”

Vice President and County Commissioner Nick Maddox praised the sheriff for his work.

“I don’t think there is anyone that I have seen in my life being more innovative in tackling crime-related issues in our community,” Maddox said.

The report shows that young black men are the predominant victims and perpetrators of homicides in the community.

Commissioner Carolyn Cummings said she had a personal interest in the matter, as the mother of a young African American man.

“I believe it’s time for us to take action,” Cummings said. “What I would like to see with this advice is not just gathering statistics, because every week young black men are killing each other.”

She called the report a “wake-up call.”

“We are losing generations of our young black men right here in Leon County,” Cummings said. “These bullets are blind. You can be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We can do better.

The report also shows that 85% of offenders have been suspended or expelled from the public school system.

Commissioner Jimbo Jackson, who is also the preschool principal at Fort Braden, said this shows where resources are needed.

“In the almost two years since COVID has kind of interrupted all of our lives, the number of hazard reports, the number of school safety reports, has quadrupled and in some cases is 10 times the number of entitlement notifications. of the minors we receive, ”says Jackson.

Jackson says early intervention is “obvious” in the report.

“These young people are getting involved far too early in the justice system and our interventions are happening far too late,” said Jackson. “These are people who are caring enough to get involved. “

The report also shows disproportionate crime in ZIP code 32304. However, Commissioner Brian Welch says everyone needs to get involved.

“A lot of the guns used in these violent crimes come from unlocked cars in my district, where we don’t have crime rates,” Welch said.

County commissioner Rick Minor thanked the sheriff for his report, saying he gave them the tools to take action.

“The time has come. It is about time,” Minor said.

Maddox has asked county staff to bring an item back on the agenda to create the Commission as quickly as possible, possibly by the next meeting in January 2022.

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