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After recent spike in shootings, Tallahassee leaders work to reduce crime

Helping cut crime and empower crime victims
Posted at 11:22 PM, Apr 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-25 23:23:03-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Four shootings happened in Tallahassee in the early hours of both Sunday and Monday mornings. Two of them were in the 32304 zip code.

“Those individuals were not residents of public housing they just happened to be in this area.”

One day before this on Saturday, the Tallahassee Housing Authority and Tallahassee Police Department came together for a Neighborhood Watch Program at the Springfield Apartment Complex in the 32304 zip code. That’s where TPD said a significant amount of the city’s shootings occurred over the last year.

The goal of the Neighborhood Watch Program is to get the community involved to help increase security.

Mike Torres is the Family Self-Sufficiency Coordinator at THA and said in light of rising crime levels in the area, they plan to keep this partnership with TPD going.

“We’re working to make the community here safer and healthier for all of our families.”

What about the victims of those shootings?

“After your world has been turned upside down by a violent crime, you’re just so shaken in so many different ways that the thought of going through a court system process or having to go through a trial is crippling.”

That’s where the State Attorney’s Office comes in after an arrest has been made.

From there, they offer direct support to a victim of crime, their families, and witnesses of crime in six Big Bend counties.

Helene Potlock is the Victims Services Director at the State Attorney's Office and says it’s more than just them that provides assistance. Potlock said it takes a network of victim advocates across several local agencies to make sure victims are taken care of every step of the way.

“We want to do everything we can to help you along this journey, please tell us what you need we are here for you.”

What if the victim wants to take it a step further?

“Someone harms you and they go to jail you are still left with this harm that happened to you, you really have no outlet.”

That’s where restorative justice comes in.

Kelly McGrath has been using this method for almost ten years in the community.

How it works is both victim and offender meet face to face. But first, the person who did the harm has to admit accountability and say they want to make it right. Then, the victim must want to meet.

This meeting allows offenders to find the root cause of their actions to make sure it doesn’t happen again and gives victims a chance to regain their power.

“You harmed me and this is the impact on my life, on my family, on my work-life, and people want that.”

There are several events happening this week to honor Crime Victims' Rights Week.

On Wednesday at 10 AM, The Attorney General will host an event at the Capitol to present statewide awards and feature survivor stories. This year’s speaker will be Christina Bertera whose sister Brittany was murdered in Wakulla County in 2020.

On Friday, The Department of Corrections Victim Services is having a Training Presentation on VINE featuring a keynote speaker who was a local Uber driver and was shot and survived. Must RSVP to Lisa.kinard@fdc.myflorida.com to attend.

This Saturday, Crime Survivors For Safety and Justice will be hosting a Healing Vigil and Victim Speak Out with local survivors. That vigil is happening at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Lake Ella Pavilion.