New Information Raises Questions About Democrat Editorial on Leon County Sheriff

New Information Raises Questions About Democrat Editorial on Leon County Sheriff

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.

12 Responses to "New Information Raises Questions About Democrat Editorial on Leon County Sheriff"

  1. Anyone who has ever been in government knows the reason government agencies have Public Information Officers is to cast the agency and its head in the best possible light. Yes, PIOs release information to the public and respond to media inquiries, but always with the political image of the agency head as their foremost guide. PIOs do not release information or respond to inquiries without first getting guidance and direction from the agency head or executive staff. The Sheriff, Undersheriff, or senior staff deputies, who have firsthand knowledge of situations are more able to provide the facts than a non law enforcement employee with no training or comprehension of criminal events. A journalist explaining law enforcement issues inevitably emphasizes media relations and agency image, not meaningful public understanding.
    Ms. Knight isn’t going to respond to any auto accidents, save any lives, or solve any crimes. Use the $100,000 to hire another deputy or two and let the Sheriff man up and be the voice of the agency we elected him to.

  2. “Sources,” but no direct statement from named LCSO representatives? Couldn’t have been too upset. Also, how much is $100,00?

  3. This position is not needed and would certainly pay for 1.75 FTE sworn. We need less politicking on the tax payer dime and more enforcement.

    Mark this the 5th failed McNeal led organization behind TPD, DOC, DJJ, and QPD!

    1. Really Bruce? The man is just one month into his four year term and you make that judgment already? I’d be curious to know if you’ve been judged in your position that quickly.

  4. The irony in this is that the Tallahassee Democrat gives Mayor Gilliam a pass on anything he does and any wasteful spending out of his office. Why the disparity in their criticism (or lack thereof) of various different elected officials spending. Why so inconsistent???

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