Local authorities make safety main priority

Due to the magnitude FAMU’s homecoming, a major concern of the Tallahassee Police Department is safety.  

Every year, homecoming brings a crowd of people from across the country to Florida’s capital city.  The safety concern is not only for those who live here, but also for visitors.

TPD’s main initiative is traffic control before, during and after the game. On Oct.22, no one can drive through Wahnish Way unless they are heading to the game, said Officer John Newland, a TPD spokesman. 

The parking garage will be open to the public until it is full. Afterwards, no one will be allowed on Wahnish Way.

Governor’s Square Mall will also see an increased police presence.

Eileen Walsh, marketing manager for General Growth Properties, Inc., said the mall is working with TPD and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office to maintain crowd control.

Dave Schimpf, director of mall security, along with TPD and the sheriff’s office put a plan together to “enable a safe environment to allow people to shop and mingle,” Walsh said.

The plan is for the sheriff’s office to control the flow of traffic outside, and TPD to maintain crowd control and make sure people follow the code of conduct inside.

Hopefully the increased patrols will prevent a replay of what happened seven years ago.

“A fight broke out and someone threw a garbage can,” Newland said. “It sounded like a gun shot. It happened so long ago, we don’t even mention it.”

“We will have officers in the mall as well as our own security,” Walsh said.

Another hot spot during homecoming is the Tennessee Street strip.

For years, on the Friday and Saturday nights during homecoming, people drive up and down Tennessee Street to show off their cars and socialize.

This scene poses a safety concern for the city.

“Tennessee Street gets so congested you can’t move,” Newland said.

TPD plans on enhancing staffing levels.  This means more patrol on the streets during Friday and Saturday nights. 

If the street gets congested, TPD will shut down side streets and keep the flow of traffic going east to west.

Newland said the flow of traffic on Tennessee Street is important in case emergency vehicles need to get through.

“Highway 90 is a U.S. Highway,” Newland said “That’s our reason for trying to keep the flow of traffic.”

Jim Spear, manager of the Subway on Tennessee Street, has not had any problems during FAMU’s homecoming.

Four years ago when he became the manager, the store hired security guards, but Spear said they do not have those problems anymore.

Spear said TPD does a great job in patrolling the area, but most people are too drunk to cause trouble.

“A lot of people are afraid, but not me. I invite it,” Spear said. “I like money, bring it on.”

Contact Emanuel Nicholson at famuannews@hotmail.com