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Former Police Chief McNeil Kicks Off Sheriff Campaign

McNeil, flanked by his wife Gloria.
Nick Evans

Former Tallahassee Police Chief Walt McNeil officially kicked his Leon County Sheriff campaign off Thursday.  He’s running on lowering crime and revamping the county’s oft-criticized consolidated dispatch agency.

The Leon County Consolidated Dispatch Agency is in turmoil after numerous response failures.  The current director is stepping down next month.  Many of the problems come from shortcomings in the agency’s software system. 

Sheriff candidate Walt McNeil believes another hang up is the agency’s chain of command.

“I will tell you that the governance issue of having three persons that that director reports to is obviously fraught with problem[s],” McNeil says.

Meanwhile, McNeil wants to foster collaboration between the county’s law enforcement agencies with a detective bureau headed up by the state attorney.  Leon has the state’s third highest violent crime rate per hundred thousand people.

“With this multijurisdictional detective bureau we’re going to work on specific crimes,” McNeil says, “like vice, and violent crime and organized crime across jurisdictional lines so that we can effectively keep these persons out of our community.”

McNeil is part of a crowded Democratic field.  Current Sheriff Mike Wood, who took over after Larry Campbell’s death last year, is running to keep his post and former deputy Tommy Mills is running again after unsuccessful bids in 2008 and 2012.  McNeil, Wood, or Mills will face off against Charlie Strickland—another former deputy running as an independent.