The Leon County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) has established a community-wide effort to reduce gun violence. This effort involves partnering with Florida State University’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice’s Center for Criminology to address the increase in homicides and nonfatal shootings within the community. Through their partnership, FSU has written the Leon County Community-Based Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative: Phase I Report.
The Report presents FSU’s findings from the planning phase of the project. Through this project, FSU has determined the scope of the violent crime problem in Leon County, conducted a systematic literature review of violence intervention strategies and provided recommendations for evidence-based intervention strategies to the Community-Based Violence Intervention Strategies (CVIPI) Planning Team.
FSU completed an in-depth update and expansion of LCSO’s Anatomy of a Homicide report. FSU to conducted a detailed analyses of LCSO and Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) case files for 733 homicide and nonfatal shootings committed in Leon County over the past four years. The report states the sample includes 70 homicide incidents, 101 attempted homicides, 356 aggravated assaults with a firearm and 206 missiles fired into dwellings or conveyances.
Suspects were identified in less than half of all incidents, and approximately one-third of cases were officially cleared. One-third of incidents involved arguments, most commonly regarding petty disputes or perceptions of disrespect. Lastly, domestic violence and victim use of a weapon both occurred in approximately 10% of incidents.
During the study period, gun violence impacted 1,255 victims in Leon County, most frequently black males in their mid to late twenties. The report states most victims were physically uninjured during the incident. Four-fifths cooperated with law enforcement officers over the course of the investigation. LCSO and TPD identified a total of 414 known suspects during the study period, typically black males in their late twenties, less than a third were affiliated with gangs, and one-fifth served as accomplices. Over 40% of offenders were acquainted with their victims and over 55% were strangers to their victims.
The report shows that most shooting incidents took place in neighborhoods with higher levels of socioeconomic disadvantage and divorce. About a fifth of the incidents were clustered in the 32301, 32303, 32304 and 32310 ZIP codes, specifically in the Providence, Bond, Frenchtown and Southside neighborhoods. The rate of gun violence in Providence and Bond were five times higher than that of other communities in the County.
The report recommends that the CVIPI Planning Team consider a focused deterrence strategy that targets both identifiable offender groups and individuals. To support the deterrence strategy, the report recommends the CVIPI Planning Team adapt and incorporate elements of hot spots policing, problem-oriented policing, and community-oriented policing. Finally, the report recommends implementing gun violence related prevention programs.