The Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) is having a problem gaining the cooperation of private business owners in policing crowds and obtaining statements from witnesses of crimes.
On July 25 at 2:45 a.m. a homicide occurred in the parking lot of 1143 Orange Ave. During the course of TPD’s investigation hundreds of people gathered at the crime scene.
Despite the presence of numerous potential witnesses, TPD reported they are having problem collecting information related to the crime. Frustrated with the situation, TPD indicated, via a press release, that “this incident is part of a multi-faceted issue occurring locally.”
TPD has asked for any source of pictures or videos from the crowd to be shared with them. They also have offered an anonymous tip line in an attempt to draw in more witnesses.
Without the cooperation of possible witnesses, TPD indicated they can’t bring closure to this case.
Why the lack of cooperation?
Research by the Urban Institute indicates that a police department’s effectiveness in controlling and preventing crime is closely related to residents’ perceptions of the law.
Negative views of the justice system contribute to “legal cynicism,” whereby people neither report crime nor cooperate with the police. The research stated that neighborhoods with high levels of legal cynicism often have high crime rates.
In addition to the lack of cooperation from witnesses, TPD is also having issues with local business owners.
TPD reported that COVID-19 has shifted nightlife activities, and recently, there has been an increase in crowds gathering in parking lots at both closed and open businesses throughout the city.
Due to the legal limits on police power over private businesses, TPD requires the cooperation of business owners in order to assist in dispersing crowds that may gather in empty parking lots on their property.
However, TPD is not getting this cooperation.
TPD said that the recent incident that took place on Orange Ave. underscores why law enforcement must have the cooperation. Officers worked in the area throughout the late evening, conducting a traffic stop in the 1100 block of Orange Avenue, completing community policing business checks near midnight and receiving two noise complaints from neighbors due to vehicles in the parking lot of 1143 Orange Ave.
However, TPD received no calls for service from the business itself requesting to clear the private parking lot.
As a result, TPD officers are now being asked to work overtime to deal with these “pop-up” crowds even tough they have no authority to breach the premises. TPD has reported that these “pop-up” crowds have been associated with “open manipulation of firearms, parking issues and suspected drug activity.”