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Leon County Sending Law Enforcement Help to Lee County

Tom Flanigan

With Leon County’s storm recovery well underway, the county’s Sheriff’s Department has sent help to a far more storm-tossed area to the south. While Tropical Storm Irma did not leave the Capital Region unscathed, Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil pointed out the situation was far more serious elsewhere.

“Fifty percent of the buildings in Marco Island were affected by this hurricane,” he noted. “And our governor and our law enforcement leaderships across the state have all pulled together and they’ve reached out and asked who has assets that can be used to assist the recovery in South Florida.”

McNeil said it just so happened Leon County had just the thing.

“We have an asset. A mobile command post that we’re going to send down to Fort Myers for the explicit purpose of being a location that we can have command and offices for law enforcement to utilize to marshal their resources to get out and hopefully get that community to where it needs to be.”

Of course, that mobile command post, contained in a giant truck trailer and a second vehicle – a large disaster response trailer pulled by a heavy-duty pickup truck, won’t drive themselves to Fort Myers. That’s why McNeil said some human resources were going as well.

“We’re sending three of our staff down with our assets and I know they’re going to do a great job of representing us. And I think it makes me proud and I know it makes them proud to be on the ground making it happen.”

One of those three Leon County Sheriff’s deputies is Damon Sullivan. He explained he’s no stranger to these sorts of special assignments.

“It reminds me of when we were deployed to Mississippi after Katrina. And then Hurricane Ivan in Pensacola,” he recalled. “These are the kind of things that we’ve all been involved with and so to go down and assist other Floridians is just a remarkable thing.”

Still, Sheriff McNeil said this will not be an extended deployment over a duration of many weeks.

“They’ve asked for a 7-day mission, and again there are other sheriff’s offices around the state that are going to come in and back us up. So we’re there for 7 days and then I believe Hillsborough County will then roll their asset and relieve us and we’ll bring the asset back to Leon County.”

It’s nice to know, said the sheriff, that should Leon County be primary ground zero for the next natural or man-made disaster, there are plenty of other Florida responders ready to help the state’s Capital County.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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