Tallahassee Democrat by Karl Etters
July 29, 2017
On the evening of June 25, City Hall was among the first to know a 17-month-old was shot in the hand while sitting in the back of a car on Texas Street.
Within 30 minutes, Tallahassee Police Department supervisors at the scene relayed the basics of the investigation to command staff members, including Chief Michael DeLeo and head spokesman Officer David Northway. A little more than an hour later, Northway had a draft news release ready and in DeLeo’s hands.
But before the public was informed about what happened at 5:25 p.m., in broad daylight on a summer Sunday, DeLeo first had to send that news release to his boss.
Assistant City Manager Cynthia Barber then forwarded DeLeo’s email and the release to her boss, City Manager Rick Fernandez for his “review and feedback.”
The email chain, obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat in a public records request, is indicative of the up-the-flag-pole way crime information is vetted by top city officials before it is provided to the community.
The meticulous management of crime news is taking place against a backdrop of violence that has plagued the city and for three year’s running has given it the dubious distinction of having the highest crime rate in the state.
City officials have not explained why it was instituted; however, interviews with other police departments in the state, including Gainesville, Panama City Beach, and Orlando, show the way Tallahassee handles the release of crime information is unusual. [READ MORE]