Sheriff McNeil Updates Leon County Commission on HOST Program

Sheriff McNeil Updates Leon County Commission on HOST Program

On February 21st, the Leon County Commission held a lengthy discussion about the Sheriff’s Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST) Deputy Program. Sheriff McNeil updated the Board on the progress of the program since its official launch in June 2022.

According to McNeil, the HOST unit has come in contact with 472 homeless individuals and 271 of those contacts became the focus of the program. According to McNeil, only 39% of the homeless individuals reported Leon County/Tallahassee as their home of origin.

McNeil indicated that his presentation was preliminary and a formal report will provided in the near future.

The Sheriff recommended continuing the pilot program, but emphasized that this is not a law enforcement issue, it is a community issue. He stated, “Arresting our way out of this problem is not the preferred method.” He noted that if the commission were to enact an ordinance that resulted in arrests he would comply. However, it would be difficult for him to do so considering Leon County’s detention facility is at maximum capacity. He recommended further engagement with faith-based groups and non-profits.

Commission Proctor noted that the Sheriff’s presentation did not put him any closer to wanting to enact an ordinance. Proctor said District 1 is getting its fair share of concern when it comes to wandering. He stated, “I’m not sure if it’s illegal to wander but there’s fear.” He said that, “People are afraid to let their children go outside to play, and that’s certainly not the community we’ve fought for.”

Commissioner O’Keefe stated, “I’m sure that not one of your officers entered the law enforcement career thinking that you would be coordinating homeless outreach.” He continued, “It’s not where we want to be, but clearly you’re making progress.” O’Keefe fully supported McNeil’s recommendations.

Commissioner Minor said he hears more about the homelessness issue than anything and mentioned the recent fatalities within the homeless community stating, “It’s a problem that needs to be addressed–we need to do something.”

Commissioner Caban agreed with McNeil on not being able to solve homelessness with arrests. Caban stated, “I could argue further that this is most visible in my district in comparison to other districts in our community.” He is not seeing the improvements he would like to, and proposed a workshop.

Commissioner Welch stated, “We still have people dying on the streets, killing each other, getting run over by cars.” Welch is concerned they are “circling the wagon,” and agreed with Caban on starting a workshop.

The Commission voted unanimously to convene a workshop and to include faith-based and non-profit groups.

12 Responses to "Sheriff McNeil Updates Leon County Commission on HOST Program"

  1. They need to redirect some of these wasteful, useless initiatives and build another jail!! For heaven’s sake, it doesn’t take any committee or even a law enforcement official to figure this out!

  2. The clown show of the Crapital District Sheriff’s Office continues. Our local Sheriff is a coward with zero political will to enforce basic vagrancy, panhandling and trespassing laws. LEO’s are not hired to be social workers. Great job Crapital District voters! Enjoy living in a Demonrat controlled, human feces filled, trash heap of a town, just like all the other blue cities. And there’s even a garbage Sheriff to back up all the other Demonrat Kommissars running this dump. Absolutely no political will to enforce basic laws.

  3. It’s great to be a Floridian I speak highly of my hometown inspite of the good bad & the ugly if we speak good things great things will happen Tallahassee,Fl getting better everyday!Congratulations ?

  4. Hallelujah, a real solution to for these displaced citizens. I am confident the workshop will quickly and effectively produce a lasting resolution for this challenging situation. Let us all pause, and thank our commissions for standing together in unison to make such a strong (and difficult) statement of support for our community via this workshop. There will likely be political fallout for such a controversial decision, but our leaders know a workshop is the right thing to call for. I am confident in 12 months when the workshop delivers its findings to the commission they will have much more to say than homelessness is a challenging and complex issue that will require more time and money to figure out a solution.

  5. This inept joker only is in office because Wood and Strickland split the vote in 2016 and no one has stepped up since.
    I brought the issue up to both Wood and Strickland and both were too arrogant and self interested to back down for the good of the county. They both bear the burden for the situation we face now.
    Now we have the worst case scenario but one Matlow/Porter is probably proud of.

  6. When the sheriff says “Arresting our way out of this problem is not the preferred method.” you know you have the wrong person as sheriff. Remember when Tallahassee did not lead the league in crime rate and there wasn’t a panhandler on every street corner? That was when we had law enforcement that did their job of enforcing the law and not the feel good crapola like HOST. You darn well can address the crime problem by enforcing the law and it is astounding to hear your sheriff to say otherwise.

  7. You can workshop this until you are blue in the face. The wooded parcels adjacent to their favorite panhandling intersections need to be cleared of the under story and over growth. The intersection of Blairtstone and Apalachee pkwy has a wooded corner on the Gov. square mall side that houses half a dozen when they aren’t standing in traffic with their signs.

    Holding a workshop is little more than a platitude…

  8. If the subject of limited jail space keeps coming up, building another jail should be the obvious solution. The current process of releasing criminals back into society isn’t working. I bet the young African American male who was arrested yesterday for having some marijuana and a pistol on Leon High School property will be back on the streets by the weekend. He is standing at the entrance of the “school-to-prison” pipeline.

  9. With all the Programs like, HOST, Men & Boys and the other Programs Law Enforcement have to run, it is a wonder anything is getting done.

  10. How about our Sherriff contact some Sherriff’s in some of Florida’s other 67 Counties and ask for help from those which have more of a handle on homelessnes, crime, and specifically B on B gangster killings?
    No? Too much to ask?
    Maybe Sheriff McNeil already knows how to be more successfull but is not allowed to impliment such policies because it is not what the woke leftist voters want to happen?
    Everyone loves to blaime elected officials for whats wrong but they are only doing the bidding of what your twisted neighbors AKA “THE VOTERS” want done in order to get reelected. Hello its your neighbors that did this and want it maintained.

  11. This just before a reported shooting at I10 and N Monroe. Our city and county commissioners vote to approve more lower “affordable” housing along the Monroe corridor after many hotels have been rented out for homeless housing. One can’t drive along N Monroe towards Lake Jackson, on side roads and near neighborhoods without seeing homeless camps, homeless people at intersections, in shopping center parking lots with their signs along with their cell phones, alcohol and cigarettes!!!

    As a lifelong resident I’ve witnessed the south side be destroyed with crime and drugs, then throughout midtown, French town, to the west and now northwest and the city/county leadership allows it to continue. They aren’t impacted by it and work to ensure they aren’t!!!

    Perhaps arrests are needed as a deterrent for those who decline assistance; its become more of a drug problem than a homeless problem!

    One more workshop is not a solution; it’s a push it down the road way out!!! It hasn’t worked and it’s not going to work!!!!

  12. I don’t think workshops are the answer. Leadership is the answer. Leadership should engage with faith-based groups and clean up some of the nonprofits that are meeting at the mayor’s home without public notice and spending taxpayer funds on junkets to Sandestin and Amelia Island.

    The sheriff needs to address crime, too many deaths at the jail, and spending less time on his reelection campaign.

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