Tallahassee Reports has learned that the Tallahassee Democrat editorial critical of newly elected Sheriff Walt McNeil contained incorrect information and was missing critical details.
Sources said the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board did not contact the Leon County Sheriffs Office (LCSO) to verify the information presented in the editorial.
The editorial criticized Sheriff McNeil for hiring Shonda Knight as the executive director of community and media relations as over-staffing in the Sheriff’s Public Information Office (PIO).
However, sources told Tallahassee Reports that last summer, before McNeil was elected, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office was actively pursing an additional employee in the PIO. The process was put on hold because of the election.
People connected with filling the position told TR they did not want to hire someone with the possibility of a new administration only months away.
The editorial also attacked Sheriff McNeil by writing that the hire was not consistent with his campaign priority of reducing crime and that the money could have been spent on additional officers.
However, sources told Tallahassee Reports that Sheriff McNeil is determined to place sworn officers in law enforcement positions and this action will add to the LCSO’s law enforcement capabilities.
TR was told that the employment of Ms. Knight will allow for Lt. Grady Jordan – the current communications contact and a sworn officer – to be moved into a law enforcement role.
Also, sources within the Sheriff’s Department told TR that the Democrat’s view that Knight’s salary and benefits (approximately $100,00) would pay for two new deputies is not true. The numbers just do not add up said the source.
TR was told the benefits for sworn officers are more expensive than non-sworn officers like Ms. Knight.
And finally, sources told TR the people at LCSO were shocked by the misinformation in the editorial and did not understand the lack of communication by the Tallahassee Democrat.