Tallahassee Police Department
The Tallahassee Police Department (TPD), provides public safety services for the city of Tallahassee, Florida. The Department operates under a district system, which separates the city into three distinct districts, in order to deploy and implement enforcement strategies designed to resolve problems unique to specific neighborhoods. Within the Department, there are three primary divisions: traffic enforcement, special investigations, and special operations. The TPD is the third oldest police department in the United States. In 2008, the death of a 23-year-old woman acting as an untrained police informant subjected the Department to intense scrutiny. A subsequent investigation uncovered evidence of negligence and multiple policy violations.
- See also: History of Tallahassee
Established in 1841, the Tallahassee Police Department has the distinction of being the oldest police department in the southern United States, and the third in the U.S., preceded only by the Philadelphia Police Department established in 1758 and the Boston Police Department established in 1838. Larger east coast cities followed with New York City and Baltimore in 1845.
Organization and ranks
Tallahassee Police Department has 350 sworn officers. The chief of police heads up all operations. Two Deputy Chiefs head the Support Bureau and Operations Bureau. Captains and lieutenants head the various divisions.
TPD has seven officers assigned to enforce traffic law violations at high-volume traffic crash locations and school zones. They use BMW R1200RT-P motorcycles and Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors. They also respond daily to traffic complaint locations called in by citizens. TPD also has six Ford Expeditions for use as command vehicles which are equipped with high-tech command boards and support items for any traffic incident or crime investigation.
- Vice includes the General Narcotics Unit, Narcotics Interdiction Unit, and Technical Services Unit. In concert, these units are responsible for working daily drug cases, long-term narcotic investigations, and mid-level drug dealers, targeting locations, businesses, and other avenues of illegal contraband or drugs.
- Hazardous Device Team, headed by a sergeant, is a full time 3-man unit which includes 2 investigators. This team, along with FDLE, Capitol Police, Florida Fire Marshal’s Office, and Leon County Sheriff’s Office, make up the 11 member Big Bend Regional Bomb Squad.
- Tactical Apprehension and Control Team is a 33 member team in 6 areas of responsibility used in high risk operations which include barricaded subjects, protection of important and influential people, high risk arrests, search warrants, and hostage situations.
- Criminal Intelligence Unit acquires, analyzes, disseminates, and maintains criminal intelligence information for the TPD and other nearby law enforcement agencies and includes murder, rape, robbery, auto theft, burglary, larceny, arson, narcotics violations, career criminals, identification and tracking of criminal street gangs.
- Canine Unit or K-9 Unit consists of 6 individual officer and canine teams. All of the teams are certified in the areas of patrol work and tracking. Four of the teams are also certified in narcotics detection and two other K-9 teams that specialize in explosives detection. The TPD K-9 Unit is responsible for assists in the training 15 other K-9 teams in North Florida and South Georgia.
- Special Response Team-Mobile Field Force has 32 members and is responsible incidents involving crowd management problems, various forms of protests, and any other events that may potentially involve civil disobedience. The part-time SRT team includes a team commanders, a logistics officer, a team medic, team leaders, and members of the response team.
- The Crime Analysis Unit is responsible for analyzing police reports and all related documents for the purpose of providing timely and pertinent information to TPD personnel. This information is relative to crime series, patterns, and historical data. The daily tasks of the unit are instrumental in planning and deployment of personnel for crime prevention efforts, deterrence of criminal activity and assistance with case clearance.
- Airport Security, headed by a sergeant, the 12 officer team is responsible for providing law enforcement service to the Tallahassee Regional Airport complex as the Airport Police.
- Training is responsible for providing information on the primary topic areas in law enforcement. Its experts coordinate firearms, defensive tactics, use of force, emergency vehicle operations and all required and advanced general police topics as well as hosting courses provided by professional instructors and training centers from around the country.
- Taxi Administrator is responsible for vehicles for hire franchises for the City of Tallahassee. The administrator oversees and inspects issues and permits, reviews corporate, franchise and insurance information, investigates inquiries and complaints concerning taxi-related incidents.
- School Crossing is headed by a sergeant and is responsible for 56 uniformed civilian crossing guards staffing 25 public elementary and middle schools within the city limits.
- Special Events Planning Unit is responsible for planning and staffing for security and road traffic control at major community events.
- Reserve officers are composed of 25 fully sworn officers who supplement both day-to-day uniformed officer duties and provide manpower for special events.
- Parking Enforcement is headed by a sergeant with support of five technicians (parking enforcement officers) and is responsible for enforcing the parking codes in the downtown, Capitol Complex and university areas.
The Tallahassee Police Department has split the community of 101 square miles (261.5 km²) into three distinct districts in order to deploy and implement enforcement strategies designed to resolve problems unique to specific neighborhoods. Citizen and business interaction is a key component of the district system, and meetings are held with these groups on a regular basis to form effective partnerships that assist in preventing and solving crimes.
- Alpha District comprises the northwest portion of the city, which encompasses the historic Frenchtown area, the downtown area, most university oriented areas, and all of the northwest neighborhoods.
- Bravo District comprises the northeastern portion of the city (areas east of North Monroe Street and north of Apalachee Parkway) and is home to two shopping malls (Governor’s Square Mall and Tallahassee Mall), two major medical centers (Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare and Capital Regional Medical Center), as well as numerous other medical and dental offices, commercial and retail businesses, restaurants, neighborhoods and residential apartment communities. Killearn Estates, Summerbrooke, and the Piney Z subdivision are but a few of the major residential communities in Bravo District. Others include Betton Hills, Old Town, Midtown, Lafayette Park, and the historic Los Robles subdivision, which, when it was developed in the 1920s, represented the very beginning of a trend toward northward suburban expansion, a trend which would continue throughout the 20th century and beyond.
- Charlie District comprises the southern portion of the City of Tallahassee (areas south of Pensacola Street and Apalachee Parkway) and is home to Florida A&M University, the Tallahassee Regional Airport, Florida State University’s Innovation Park as well as Southwood Plantation, the Bond Community, South City, the fairgrounds, Myers Park, Indianhead Acres, the Providence neighborhood, and numerous neighborhoods with a large population of college students, most of them renting the homes or apartments they live in.
Tallahassee Online Police Statistics (TOPS) – Launched on August 1, 2007, this web-based crime mapping application allows the public to examine over two dozen crime incident types for the previous six months. Searches include addresses, parks, neighborhoods and Tallahassee Police Crime Watch areas. On August 15, 2008, TOPS version 2.0 was launched, adding new features and a new interface. The site can be accessed via the Tallahassee municipal portal or the Tallahassee-Leon County GIS I-Maps website.
Drug sting resulting in death of Rachel Hoffman
The Tallahassee Police Department was the subject of intense scrutiny after a botched buy-bust operation ended in a fatal tragedy on May 7, 2008 with the execution style murder of 23 year-old Rachel Hoffman. Hoffman, a recent graduate of Florida State University, was serving in an undercover capacity, alone, when she was murdered by two suspected drug dealers while nearly twenty TPD officers and a DEA plane were supervising the operation. A Grand Jury investigation was highly critical of the planning and execution of the operation, and a subsequent TPD internal affairs investigation found negligence and multiple policy violations by the Vice squad and individual police officers involved. Following Hoffman’s death, the Florida legislature enacted “Rachel’s Law” and established minimum guidelines for law enforcement to use when engaging civilians in undercover operations. In a civil suit alleging wrongful death, the City of Tallahassee paid the Hoffman family $2.6 million in damages.
In 2008 a Tallahassee resident, Robert Brayshaw, was arrested for violating a Florida statute which prohibited individuals from “maliciously, with intent to obstruct the due execution of the law or with the intent to intimidate, hinder or interrupt any law enforcement officer in the legal performance of his or her duties, publish or disseminate the residence address or telephone number of any law enforcement officer while designating the officer as such…” Brayshaw had posted, online, the name of a Tallahassee police officer, along with her home address, cell phone number and age. Brayshaw further criticized the officer, stating that she was verbally abusive, rude and unprofessional. Brayshaw brought an action in federal court, challenging the constitutionality of the Florida statute, claiming a right to free speech under the First Amendment. The case was heard in U.S. District Court. On April 30, 2010, Judge Richard Smoak ruled in favor of Brayshaw, striking down the 1972 Florida law, finding that the statute was “unconstitutional on its face”. Smoak also ordered the city of Tallahassee to pay Brayshaw’s legal expenses of $25,000.
- ^ WCOT City Talk, interview by Michelle Bono with Phil Kiracofe and Chief Walt McNeil, Oct. 2006
- ^ “Police | Police Department”. Talgov.com. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
- ^ “Tallahassee-Leon County GIS”. Tlcgis.org. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
- ^ http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/09/03/120903fa_fact_stillman
- ^ http://www.aclufl.org/news_events/?action=viewRelease&emailAlertID=3829 Federal Court Strikes Down Florida Statute That Criminalized Free Speech When Criticizing Police Officers, May 3, 2010
- ^ ACLU Issues Federal Judge Order With Officer’s Personal Information Published By Judge That Resulted In False Arrest
- ^ Randall C. Marshall, Legal Director Of The ACLU Publishes Article Of Unconstitutional Law And False Arrest, July 5, 2010
- ^ Is Tallahassee Police Department Violating City Watchdog’s Free Speech?, October 16, 2012