Sheriff Candidates Talk Crime, Consolidation and Cooperation

Sheriff Candidates Talk Crime, Consolidation and Cooperation

On Tuesday, May 24th, the four candidates for Leon County Sheriff fielded questions at a forum hosted by the Network of Entrepreneurs and Business Advocates (NEBA). The forum was held at the Capital City Country Club and approximately 120 people attended.

The election for Sheriff will begin with the primary on August 30th and conclude with the general election on November 8th.

The primary will be a contest between Democratic candidates Tommy Mills,who is a former officer with the Leon and Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office’s, Walt McNeil, former City of Tallahassee Police Chief and current Sheriff Mike Wood. The winner of the primary will face Charlie Strickland, a businessman and former lieutenant with Leon County Sheriff’s Office, who is running with no party affiliation.

The forum featured specific questions about concealed weapons on college campuses, unionizing the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, and the City of Tallahassee’s recent vote to extend closing times for night clubs to 4:00 a.m.

It became clear early on that current Sheriff Mike Wood, who was appointed by Governor Scott after the untimely death of Sheriff Larry Campbell approximately 18 months ago, would be the target of the other three candidates.

The three challengers all repeated various comments centered around recent reports on high crime rates buttressed by the theme that “what we are doing is not working.”

However Strickland and McNeil were the most aggressive.

Strickland said that “Sheriff Wood had one and half years and it is not working.”

McNeil criticized Sheriff Wood for not having a plan to work with the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) and said “we are in a bad place” and “Mike does not get it.’

McNeil told TR after the forum, the Sheriff must address City crime through more leadership and in tangible actions that go beyond public relations.

Sheriff Wood responded by telling the audience that “collaboration is our strong point” and that the Sheriff’s Office works well with TPD. He cited anti-gang initiatives with TPD and state agencies as examples.

Sheriff Wood also spoke enthusiastically about the recent decision by the Sheriff’s Office to roll out body cameras.

Strickland, who is the owner of the Talon Range, used his business experience to distinguish himself from the other candidates.

Mills, who narrowly lost to Sheriff Campbell during the last election cycle, spoke of his disappointment in the current crime rate and said it was “time to roll your sleeves up” and “do things differently.”


None of the candidates said they supported unionizing the Sheriff’s Office or consolidation. However, Walt McNeil said the question is about working together versus consolidation and if we can’t work together then we need to consolidate.

All the candidates, but Charlie Strickland, were against allowing concealed weapons on college campuses.

Walt McNeil and Sheriff Wood spoke against the City of Tallahassee’s 3-2 decision to extend bar hours to 4 a.m.. McNeil labeled the decision “wrong headed.” Strickland and Mills did not speak against the City’s decision.

Wood won the straw poll of NEBA members. Strickland came in second, McNeil in third and Mills in fourth.

5 Responses to "Sheriff Candidates Talk Crime, Consolidation and Cooperation"

  1. I agree McNeil is the reason TPD is a cesspool that it is. He is directly responsible for that mess and now he wants to destroy another agency? Not to mention the mess he made as Charlie Christ’ lackey. Go away Wally.

    And I went to talon and met Strickland what an arrogant know it all. I won’t be going back there again or voting for him. Just because you got an MBA doesn’t mean you know how to run a 60 million dollar organization with nearly 700 employees.

  2. If you’ve ever been to Talon Range you’d vote for Charlie Strickland. It a very well run facility with a tremendous focus on customer service and safety. Based on what I’ve seen he’s a heck of nice guy and a HIGHLY responsible individual.

  3. Mike Wood seems to be doing a nice job, but the first and last a Democrat I voted for was Lawton Chiles. Never again. Charlie Strickland is therefore the man.

  4. Walt is the reason crime is so high in Tallahassee after his debacle of being police chief. How can he, with a straight face, suggest otherwise? Now take into coisideration his debacle as the Secretary of Corrections and Juvenile Justice the picture becomes clearer. Then he has a less than stellar tenure as chief in Quincy and his ineptitude becomes clearer!

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