Is safety an issue at the State Capital?

Photo credit: Merlina Aventurin | Assistant Photo Editor 

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released its annual statewide crime statistics for each county, and for the third consecutive year, Leon County has the highest crime rate per capita.

With a population of over 280,000 in 2016, Leon County’s crime rate per 100,000 people was 5,655.4. In comparison, larger counties such as Miami-Dade and Duval had crime rates per 100,000 people of 4,118 and 4,287.9 respectively. While Miami-Dade and Duval do have larger populations, both counties have experienced a decrease in crime from 2015. However, Leon County has had a 6.8 percent increase from the previous year.

Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) Officer David Northway, believes that people in the community are instrumental in limiting crime in the city.

“A lot of people ask what the police are doing, but what is the community doing? We can’t change community behavior, we can only stop crimes from happening,” he said.

TPD holds community meetings with business leaders and religious leaders to be a part of the solution.

While Leon County consists of more than just Tallahassee, the question of whether residents of the city feel safe is still significant.

Abraham Nicholson, a 40-year-old Tallahassee native, says he does feel safe, but has noticed a spike in crime recently. Nicholson, who believes that the increase in crime is generational and partly due to drugs, is no stranger to being the victim of a crime.

“I’ve been robbed before. I was walking at night and somebody pulled a gun on me, but luckily I didn’t have anything to give, so he got away with nothing.”

Tallahassee is known for being a college town, housing two major universities, plus a community college, with Florida State University (FSU) and Florida A&M University (FAMU) attracting thousands of people per year with football games, homecomings, etc.

According to Officer Northway, “The sheer numbers of people that come to the city will have an impact on crime.”

Jewel Horton, a resident of Tallahassee for the last 16 years, thinks that the presence of the universities in Tallahassee, has had an adverse effect on crime.

“The resources that are directed towards the colleges pull resources that could be directed to other parts of the community that could mitigate the crime rate,” said the

Bobby Washington, a pre-physical therapy student at FAMU, says he feels safe in the community.

“I feel safe in Tallahassee, but I know it is still dangerous in certain areas, and even on campus,” Washington explained.

Washington does believe his living area is safe enough for him not to be paranoid of impending dangers, though he has heard many stories.

“I’ve never encountered a dangerous situation here but I have heard stories of robberies and things of that sort,” Washington said.

FAMU has taken steps to improve campus safety following last October’s shooting that left one student, Quinton Langford, dead, and another student injured.

FAMU Chief of Police Terence Calloway states, “We have set up safety seminars for students, added some additional cameras and we are in the process of erecting a perimeter fence along Perry Street to create some additional deterrence.”

Calloway also mentioned a partnership with the TPD and Leon County Sheriff’s Office if needed.

If anyone has any information about the recent shooting near campus on Perry Street, they are encouraged to contact the Tallahassee Police Department.