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Leon County Commissioners approve moving ahead with $350,000 Commission on the Status of Men and Boys as outlined by Sheriff Walt McNeil

Posted at 8:39 PM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 20:39:27-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Leon County Commissioners unanimously voted to create a Commission on the Status of Men and Boys under guidance of Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil.

Commissioners had two options: create a CSMB similar to the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, or one based on an outline from Sheriff McNeil.

The Commission on the Status of Men and Boys will run $350,000 annually. That price tag sent concerns through some commissioners. Under the motion passed Tuesday, the county is expecting other community partners, such as the City of Tallahassee to help foot the bill. If that's not the case, the county will revisit in a year.

The Commission on the Status of Men and Boys under the Sheriff's suggestion will have an executive director, two part-time staff members, as well as software tools and more that the Sheriff feels will be necessary to making sure crime goes down.

The other option- the one commissioners didn't agree to- would have created a Commission more similar to the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.

That one is about $40,000 a year, because much of the research and work depends on outside groups in the county.

The CSWG is also only operated by the county. The CSMB is interlocal, with partnerships from the City of Tallahassee as well as Leon County Schools.

Mayor Pro Tem Curtis Richardson says crime is important enough to join forces on.

"We're all one community; Tallahassee and Leon County. So we want to work together to address this issue," said Richardson.

Mayor Pro Tem Richardson says the city is on board.

"We will be coordinating our resources and bringing them all together both human and financial resources. Hopefully by working together and bringing together that kind of expertise, we can hopefully begin to get to some solution," he said.

The CSMB is a direct result of Sheriff Walt McNeil's Anatomy of A Homicide.

The nearly 100 page document adds context to five years worth of homicides in the county; addressing the many trends and factors that lead up to crime.

One constant found is the majority of the crime happens in 32304.

Lee Johnson is a community activist within Frenchtown.

"Being here in Frenchtown, you can't just analyze what the needs are sitting in an ivory tower. You have to actually come down here and integrate yourselves into the lives of people," he said.

For the last 4 years, he's operated an after school program aimed at helping kids with homework, financial literacy, and more.

"We instill in these kids a sense of worth that they can be more than just the drug dealer that they see on the street with the shiny rims," said Johnson.

Johnson says he's been in talks with leaders like Sheriff McNeil to pinpoint what works. Both agree on what to do next.

"This isn't a right now solution. We have to start on a long-term journey which is something the sheriff and i are in agreement on. The after schools programs interventions right now, this kind of stuff works. I've seen it work for the last 4 years," he said.

Commissioners will work on the Commission on the Status of Men and Boys at its next county commission meeting in early March.