The first of two town hall meetings scheduled by the City of Tallahassee showed little support for a $60 million Public Safety Complex located on the south side of Tallahassee.
Of the first 18 speakers, no more than three speakers offered support for the proposed location.
The second meeting is scheduled for tonight at the Walker-Ford Community Center, 2301 Pasco Street from from 6-8 p.m.
The meetings are the result of a previous 3-2 vote by the city commission in favor of seeking more community engagement on the project which is slated to be located the corner of South Monroe and Orange Avenue.
The meeting, held at the Senior Center on Monroe Street and Seventh Avenue, drew approximately 150 people.
Mayor John Dailey got things started by saying that he was interested in hearing “your thoughts” on the Public Safety Complex. There were brief comments by City Manager Reese Goad and Police Chief Michael DeLeo.
Overall, citizen comments were supportive of building a new facility for the Tallahassee Police Department. However, questions about the projected cost, the south side location, and the process that determined the location dominated the speaker comments.
A number of speakers were very aggressive in stating that the Tallahassee Police Department was not the solution to crime, criticized law enforcement for over policing and argued the location selection was based on race.
For example, Dr. Ed Holifield, when addressing the location, said the “underlying assumption is black people are more criminal than white people.”
Others speaking against the project noted the adverse impact on current businesses in the area and urged city commissioners to invest more money on affordable housing and after school programs.
One speaker argued that the police headquarters should be located in the central part of town. Others commented that the use of substations may be a more effective answer to placing a police presence in outlying areas.
City leaders say the vision is for the campus to serve as a community gathering place, while also housing the headquarters for the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD).
The development could include recreational spaces, public meeting rooms, and regional training facilities.
Also, leaders believe a “multi-functional facility will help police officers connect and build strong bonds with residents, a focus of TPD’s community policing efforts.”