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Tallahassee Police Chief Gets Criticism, Praise From Residents

Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo
Nick Evans

Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo’s leadership of the city’s police department drew criticism and praise from residents at an open forum Tuesday. DeLeo said he likes to hold forums to build relationships with community members.

Tallahassee resident Peter Prinz is upset that the driver who hit his wife in a car accident didn’t get a ticket. He said he approached Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo months ago about the accident.

“I waited a half an hour for you before you ever showed up," Prinz said. "And you never invited me in. I had a folder with pictures and everything. You never even looked at it.”

While several people at the forum had traffic-related concerns, DeLeo says the city consistently has trouble with people stealing property from cars, including guns.

“People leave purses, backpacks, briefcases, laptops, cell phones, bags in their cars," he said. "The number one thing that you can do to help us out on that besides take your stuff out, is lock your car.”

DeLeo was also questioned about surveillance tactics of protestors and gang violence. Tallahassee resident Sam Pate questioned the potential use of body cameras, saying he’s afraid that will lead to more arrests. But DeLeo said he favors them and is waiting to hear on a grant from the federal government.

“But body cameras are not going to generate more arrests," he said. "They’re not going to make people commit crimes. So, the fact is right now officers have discretion to make an arrest for a minor violation or not make an arrest, right?”

DeLeo said the police department is adding more officers. He also wants a new modern building for the police department with more space.