[tabi] An update on my interaction with Chief DeLeo

  • From: "Easy Talk" <Easytalk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 25 Jan 2014 12:15:32 -0500

On Friday, January 24th
, shortly after 8:00 a. m., I received a call from Chief DeLeo in response to an
email I'd sent earlier in the week. He was very concerned that he'd never 
my phone messages and that no one was able to provide me with his contact 
It appears that Chief DeLeo does have an open-door policy. In fact, there was an
article on the WCTV website that addressed this issue and is pasted below.   
Chief DeLeo appears to be
a very intelligent individual and very self-confident in his actions and 
Our conversation lasted over 25 minutes and I felt he was definitely listening 
what I was saying.
During the first five minutes of our conversation, we spoke about my particular 
in the way I was treated by Officer Thompson. I expressed to him that I didn't 
it was an officer's right to sway a report that, in my opinion, had an outcome 
the trial not to mention the fact that the officer didn't show up. At 
2:40 that same day, I received a call from Officer Thompson who apologized for 
showing up for the hearing. She gave the excuse that she had entered the wrong 
on her calendar. I told Officer Thompson that unfortunately, there was nothing 
be done about my situation now, but asked her to promise me that if while she is
out on patrol when she sees a vehicle turn right on red and not yielding to the 
as the law instructs, would she please either issue a warning or write a ticket.
She responded that she would do her best. I feel confident that Chief DeLeo will
look into the situation further and take corrective actions with this officer.
I then turned the conversation to my main purpose for wanting to talk to the 
which is the vehicle/pedestrian safety issue in Tallahassee/Leon County. Chief 
made it very clear that some of the things he was going to say, I would probably
not like but he was not going to lie and say he could or would do something that
he could not do. The two issues that we discussed were the Vehicle/Pedestrian 
issue and White Cane Safety law enforcement by the police department. 
the problem is that the police department does not have the manpower or money to
assign officers to monitor intersections for violations of drivers who fail to 
to pedestrians. This is similar to the situation that we have with Dial-A-Ride 
the added burden because of decentralization of the bus system. I tried to offer
several suggestions for solutions to this problem.
My first offered solution was to make attempts to get the penalty for failure to
yield to pedestrians and the White Cane Safety law increased. It was my thinking
that if we could get the legislature to do this, the additional revenue could be
distributed directly to the police departments to fund additional officers to 
the violations. Chief DeLeo explained that the police department only receives 
$2 - $5 of the actual fine, and if it is thrown out of court, they don't receive
anything. In most cases, when the fines are increased, none of the additional 
actually go to the police department. There are several agencies that revenues 
fines are distributed among.
I next suggested that we get a group of citizens to go before the City 
and request 4 - 6 additional police officers be hired to handle 
violations. Chief DeLeo said that would not be enough officers to handle the 
He gave an example of the noise ordinance as a point of information. The City 
is currently dealing with the noise ordinance that if passed, will place a large
burden on the police department. For example, if they had 700 additional calls 
would be an enormous expense to the city in man-hours and equipment.
It didn't seem like I was making much progress, so I approached the possibility 
a special event to promote public awareness and education. I explained to Chief 
that in the past, the Florida Council of the Blind has attempted to get police 
involved on more than one occasion, on national White Cane Day to stop violators
and issue either warnings or tickets. I explained that the police department was
unwilling to do this. He immediately told me that basically, that was then and 
is now. He indicated that any organization who wants to have a special event may
send him a letter of request one month prior to the event and the police 
will be willing to work with that organization by sending press releases to the 
and in our situation, coordinate our efforts with the FSU police department. 
we were talking the white Cane law at the time, I explained to him that there 
a national White Cane day (October 15
), a long way from now.
We then talked about his dealing with the vehicle/pedestrian safety issue. Here 
he is willing to assist us with a special event. I did get the impression that a
request from a particular organization or citizens group would receive more 
than if it was something I individually wanted to do. It is my recommendation 
we form a group of citizens and any other organizations that would support this 
and take Chief DeLeo at his word.
At some point during the conversation, in trying to help him understand my 
I said, unless you've been hit by a vehicle and haven't had to deal with the 
trauma, you can't understand. He responded that he had, in fact been hit by a 
I think at this point, we need to organize to determine what we want to 
and who will take the initiative to get the ball rolling. I welcome responses 
suggestions and most of all, I welcome advocates who will be willing to follow 
and stand up for our basic right to walk the streets of Tallahassee/Leon County 

January 24, 2014
Tallahassee's new police chief is promising an open door to anyone who wants to 
ways to make the police department better.
Michael DeLeo will hit the four week mark as chief on Monday.
We sat down with him today for a one on one interview.
Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo has been on more than a half dozen ride 
already trying to find out what officers face on any given night in the capital 
and what they need.
"I got feedback and information from the officers who are actually going out and
doing their job everyday," DeLeo said.
"By not having grown up within the Tallahassee Police Department, I'm more 
to change - I'm open to it," DeLeo said. "Well this is how we're doing it and we
like to do it this way' Okay well tell me how it's better...why are we doing it 
way? How is it better? because I'm not going 'Well that's how I've always done 
DeLeo, a 19 year veteran of the Plantation Police department, was sworn in 
He now leads a department that has come under fire in the past year for its use 
force in the DUI arrest of Christina West, shots fired on an officer outside the
city limits, and its handling of the sexual battery investigation of Jameis 
"Those were things that were done before. I was certainly aware of them, read 
articles about them, but I haven't sat down and read the case files," DeLeo 
DeLeo says he cannot discuss the Christina West case because litigation is 
"As far as reading of the actual documents of the other cases, that''s going to 
as time goes on. I met with Mr. Meggs. I've certainly listened to him and 
and heard his concerns of what he feels would be better. I've heard from Sheriff
Campbell and had similar discussions with him. I've been working with the 
You can only get so much from documents. The main thing is understanding and 
with people."
DeLeo says he is still gathering information about the department and the 
"Most of the people I've met have been supportive of TPD and the good 
they've had, but just like any other organization, we're not perfect and there 
always ways to get better. That's my main focus," he said.
DeLeo has met with the sheriff and state attorney and plans to meet with all of 
city commissioners too.
He has not made any major changes yet but says his vision is to raise the bar 
what officers can do to what officers should do.
"We should make our decisions and our actions should be taken based on our 
and we should be focused on what we should be doing, as opposed to what we can 
DeLeo said.
"In times of crisis," DeLeo said, "I'll be out front and be responsible for 
questions and be accountable to the public."
The chief's family - his wife and two young sons - will join him in Tallahassee 
the school year is up.

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