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TPD: Students are not to blame for Leon County crime

Posted at 6:32 PM, Jun 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-25 18:32:47-04

LEON COUNTY, Fla. — For the fifth year in a row the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Uniform Crime Report says Leon County has the highest crime rate.

It's something that had a lot of people talking on Facebook. Many pointing the finger at college students.

Tallahassee Police said that's definitely not the case. Soon to be Interim Tallahassee Police Chief, Steve Outlaw, says it's a societal problem and students agree.

"All four years, I haven't had any issues," said Amanda Mcglone, an Florida State University alum.

Mcglone just graduated from Florida State University and for the most part, no complaints.

"If I didn't think it was safe, I wouldn't be here walking my dog outside by myself," said Mcglone. "Like, I can take him out here at night and not worry about anything happening."

Not everybody in the neighborhood agrees. Cody Kieliszewiski lives right down the street and paints quite the opposite picture.

"There's been times at night where, not right at my doorstep, but I've heard gunshots in the area like multiple times since I've been at this residence," said Kieliszewiski.

But the numbers are actually trending down in Leon County in murders, burglaries and property theft.

The year before that, down seven percent in overall crime. Police say there's a lot that's contributed to the change.

"What's the influence of the person committing the crime," said Outlaw. "What caused them to commit the crime? What's their background? What's their foundation? What's their morals?"

Outlaw calls the city a work in progress.

"Rome wasn't built in a day so it's not going to be fixed in a day and we recognize that, but also with those stats you have to be careful about making comparative analysis between communities because there's a lot of dynamics that go into that communities aren't the same," said Outlaw.

And, before they can bring it down considerably, police and neighbors agree a cultural shift needs to happen.

"I think it's just an easy excuse because it is such a big college town, you can easily say 'Oh ,well if anything is happening here, let's just blame it on the college students.' But if it's happening all year round and people aren't here all summer then I don't think it's fair to blame just college students," said Mcglone.

Tallahassee Police are working with the Leon County Sheriff's Office on a number of projects including the ALLin Initiative.

Just recently they also conducted Operation Safe Summer. In a week and a half, 41 people were arrested with four guns off the street.