Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil recently appeared on the Morning Show with Preston Scott and discussed the Leon County Sheriff’s Office’s plans for crime reduction, including the ALLin LEON initiative. The initiative is a plan to bring community members and organizations together with the goal of reducing crime in Leon County.
“It starts with the premise that it’s going to take all of us in our community working together,” McNeil said.
Two ALLin LEON programs, Worship with Me and Back on Track, focus on helping children. McNeil said children are a significant component of the county’s crime issue.
In the Back on Track program, LCSO partners with the Department of Juvenile Justice to match children with deputies for a mentor-ship. The deputy and the child have a conversation about their lives, and they choose a night to have dinner together.
The child and their family are then invited to participate in Worship with Me, which connects them with a participating faith-based organization.
“I am a Christian, but this isn’t Christian-based. It’s faith-based,” McNeil noted.
Once connected with a family, the organization is asked to provide two opportunities for the family to attend a worship service. McNeil said about 50% of interactions continue after the families attend the two services, and the program has been successful in discouraging children from committing crimes.
Currently, seven faith-based organizations participate in Worship with Me, and McNeil hopes to increase involvement to around 100 organizations in every corner of the community.
McNeil also discussed Cease Fire, another program within ALLin LEON. Cease Fire is a collaboration between LCSO and Big Bend Crime Stoppers. McNeil said they offer a bounty to anyone who gives information about a person with an illegal weapon, and if prosecution is successful, the tipper gets $1,000.
He said he wants the community to be aware that Cease Fire aims to take guns from criminals and not from law-abiding citizens. He also emphasized gun responsibility, noting that many guns used for crimes are stolen.
“That’s why we’re again saying lock your cars,” he said. “I can’t emphasize that enough. Lock your home, lock your cars, and you will help us drive crime down in our community.”