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Tallahassee Pauses Plans For Public Safety Complex On Southside To Gather Neighborhood Input

A row of Tallahassee police cars
Tallahassee Police Department Facebook

Tallahassee is pausing plans for a public safety complex after local residents pushed for more input on the project. City commissioners tabled a vote on hiring an architecture firm to design the city’s new public safety complex.

The city will revisit the issue in March, and commissioners want to gather more public input in the meantime through two town hall meetings. Commissioner Jeremy Matlow pushed for the delay. He says Tallahassee needs to reevaluate how it involves local voices in its plans.

 “We do need to do better in communicating. I don’t think the intention is what’s been stated. I think the motives have been very clear to bring the community together. But it’s just a bit ironic that the community we are trying to reach hasn’t been brought into this planning process. It goes back to what Mayor Gillum said, if we want people to work together it has to happen organically we can’t force it and we can’t push it” Matlow said.

But Commissioner Curtis Richardson says the Tallahassee leaders have had many and lengthy discussions with Southside neighborhood residents about plans to build a police headquarters in the area. And he says it’s clear to him its needed.

“This isn’t a class project for me. I’ve got skin in the game. I’ve made that commitment. And I know that this is something we’ve discussed for years and its needed on the Southside of town. Statistics show us and I know. My house has been broken into twice. My cars have been burglarized—my wife and mine—twice—sitting in our driveway,” Richardson said.

But Tallahassee NAACP President Adner Marcelin says members of the community are concerned about increasing the police presence on the city’s Southside amid high profile conflicts between police and African Americans.

“We have as a nation a big issue on community relations between our community and our police department. And so I think one of the reasons we’re getting so much resistance is because some of the interaction is not nice. Some of the interaction is not positive. And then you have other officers who go above and beyond and until we can get an address on that mix it’s very, very difficult,” Marcelin said.

Meanwhile County Commissioner Bill Proctor has another idea. He wants a joint government building that would house school district and county offices along with some sheriff deputies and police officers.

Tallahassee Pauses Plans For Public Safety Complex On Southside To Gather Neighborhood Input

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Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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