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Tallahassee Police and community should work together for a better relationship

By Vanity Duran
On November 7, 2014

The Tallahassee Police Department and its community have not been on the best of terms lately. Harassment, racial profiling and lack of respect has put a strain between TPD and the community.

Captured on video, the tasing of a 61-year-old great-grandmother Viola Young by a TPD officer sparked a national uproar on media sites around the world.

On October 2, Young was shot in the back with a taser after walking away from Officer Terry Mahan. According to police reports, Mahan detained three people and Young inquired the officer about one of the individuals arrested. In the video shot by a witness, Young is shown walking away from Mahan and collapsed face down on the pavement.

Young was eventually arrested and charged with resisting an officer from arrest.

Mahan has been placed on administrative leave with pay. Recently, the charges against Young have been dropped.

TPD has been on close patrol in the Frenchtown area to prohibit drug sales and the use of drugs.

Frenchtown resident, Gary Chison says the TPD needs to improve and stop the drug community of selling so that no one would do it.

“Drugs are bad for the community, so I would prefer the police department to find out how to solve that issue,” Chison said.

On August 2013, the TPD used excessive force to arrest Christina West for drinking under the influence and driving through the wall of a house. West said the officers broke her cheekbone, gave her a bloody nose, black eye and more.

The Tallahassee City Commission approved a settlement agreement with West for $475,000.

Victoria Hill is a mathematical science senior from Pensacola, Fla., and a Frenchtown resident. She believes it is sad that people have faith in the justice system and police protecting us, but they are the ones doing harm.

“Perception is everything; if the public will see you constantly harassing people versus taking a step to protect the people in the community they will gain a lot more respect if they protected people more,” Hill said.

In October, the City of Tallahassee quietly settled a federal lawsuit for $45,000 filed by  Kevin Hawkins, a minister at The Multitude of Christ Church, who was allegedly choked and abused by TPD officer’s after raiding his house by mistake in 2010.

The lawsuit said police officers were armed with assault weapons and pulled Hawkins out of his house dragging him across the concrete walkway and causing other physical abuse. The officers allegedly forced Hawkins daughter, who was 15 at the time, to get on the bathroom floor and ordered his son, who was 9, to lie face down on the floor.

Mayor-elect and FAMU alumnus Andrew Gillum believes that the relationship between the community and the TPD needs to be rebuilt.

“I will be pushing for more educational development opportunities for our Police department in the cultural competency, de-escalation and effective communication spaces,” Gillum said. “I also think the community has to take greater responsibility to ensure that we work toward a respectful and courteous relationship with law enforcement.”

People in the community can work better to make efforts to respect the views and authority of the Tallahassee police through events that allow a bond between both parties and even simple conversations to see how one another can relate.

The TPD can remain humble with his or her authoritative position. Officers can seek to relate more to the community and to protect more rather than striving to arrest individuals.

The responsibilities of a good relationship between the TPD and the community lie on both parties. Each party needs to show respect in order to gain respect in order to improve relationships and current circumstances in the community.

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