The Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) plans to use a $120,000 grant to combat gang violence by creating a specially formed gang task force while cooperating with several federal, state and local agencies.
The department was awarded the money by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement after a Tallahassee City Commission voted unanimously to approve the funding.
The grant — called the Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) Grant — will provide $121,510 for additional officer training in conflict resolution and the creation of a task force that will target drugs and gang activity in public schools.
According to Police Chief Lawrence Revell, the department received more money than they asked for.
“We originally submitted this request for $96,500. The grant was so well written, they gave us an additional $20,000-plus based on the money available,” he told city commissioners.
According to the Department of Justice, PSN is a 2001 DOJ-funded nationwide initiative to bring federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, community leaders and other stakeholders together to identify and solve “pressing violent crime problems” in a community.
The four key elements of a violent reduction program, according to the PSN, are community engagement, prevention and intervention, focused and strategic enforcement, and accountability.
The TPD released a statement saying the grant money will be used for expanding investigations into violent crime organizations and narcotics sales, purchasing new equipment like license plate readers and offering conflict resolution training for youth in the community.
The grant will also enable the training of 20 officers as part of a gang task force, providing gang investigation and prosecution training.
“I will train officers on how to identify all those gang signs, gang members, those types of things. And it helps us work in collaboration with price and overtime, things as well,” said Revell.
“Enhancing community safety will always be our number one priority and main focus,” Revell said in the statement. “Through Project Safe Neighborhoods, we will be able to improve information sharing across multiple agencies and coordinate a more comprehensive approach to reducing violent crime in the community, while also providing more training and equipment for our officers.”
In order to receive the grant, the TPD laid out a comprehensive proposal with a strategy for utilizing the money. The proposal included the implementation of a gang task Force investigation unit consisting of members from the TPD and other agencies, including the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Marshals Service, Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“The people who are training our officers and everybody else are people who have been associated with gangs to truly know what’s happening. So we will definitely bring those types of trainers in and have them assist us in training our officers. We will also have members of academia come in and train on what to look for and what to know,” Revell added about the training.