18 to 29-year-old black men made up the majority of assailants and victims of gun related crimes in Tallahassee from 2011 to 2013. That’s according to a study from the newly-formed Community Leadership Council on Gun Violence. Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo says the study is the first step to addressing gun violence in the city.
DeLeo says the Committee is also using the study to identify which neighborhoods would most benefit from gun violence reduction efforts.
“We identified two places where we’re going to start and focus our efforts primarily and that’s South City and what we’re calling the Greater Frenchtown, Griffin Heights area,” DeLeo says.
The committee is planning outreach efforts in those areas including a citizen’s police academy for teens intended to help young people experience positive interactions with police officers. DeLeo is also pushing to make more personal connections with community members through what he calls “custom notifications.”
“What you do is you take members from the community and you make personal visits and reach out for 15 to 30 minutes with people that either have been involved in gun violence, violent crime or who have just been released from correctional facilities," DeLeo says. "And you say ‘here’s your alternatives.People do care about you. Here’s the options that you have available to you in this community. What can we do to help bridge the gap?’”
Meanwhile, Mayor Andrew Gillum says addressing gun violence in Tallahassee is a community issue that needs input from everyone, not just those living in the targeted neighborhoods.
“We have to build the kinds of coalitions that will attack the issues where they are and while there are those who will scream from the sidelines, this isn’t really a game for sideliners. Every sector of our community has a role to play,” Gillum says.
Gillum says addressing gun violence requires addressing related issues such as education, poverty and public health.