Tallahassee, FL—While the nation continues to debate and protest (for and against) the use of deadly force used by police officers against African-American male citizens, at the end of the day—the officers involved and officials on both sides of the debate concur that training (or lack thereof) played a significant role in the police officers decision to use deadly force.
In November 2014, President Obama proposed a spending package of $263M, in part, to be put toward training and to add more resources for police department reform. President Obama’s goal is to help bridge the deep mistrust between law enforcement and the public.
Many communities (citizens) across the United States, regardless of political party affiliation, have agreed that there is a desperate need for the public to be able to trust law enforcement officers.
On November 4, 2014, sixty-seven percent of Tallahassee citizens voted for an Anti-Corruption Amendment in an effort to weed out corruption in local government. With the help of an organization called RepresentUs (based in Massachusetts), Tallahassee is the first city in the nation to pass such an amendment. Tallahassee, being the capital city of Florida, is the home of the Governor’s Mansion, the office of Florida Attorney General, most of its government agencies main offices—offices are located within a block or so of each other. Most of Tallahassee’s citizens are employed by those state agencies —so there is no wonder why the citizens of Tallahassee would anonymously agree to desperately want protection from government officials operating like Hitler’s Regime.
Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney Willie Meggs have been serving in Tallahassee for thirty plus years. Sheriff Campbell’s son, Jack Campbell, has been employed with the State Attorney’s Office as an Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor for over ten years. As a regular stand –in for State Attorney Willie Meggs during press conferences, Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell stood alongside his dad, Sheriff Larry Campbell and members of Sheriff Campbell’s command staff as they recently held a press conference in regards to two Leon County Sheriff’s Deputies being ambushed by a lone gunman—in which resulted in the death of one of the deputies. The press conference, which was held twenty-four hours after the ambush, had some Tallahassee citizens questioning Sheriff Larry Campbell’s current health and his effectiveness to continue through the end of his term. Sheriff Campbell, who is 72-years-old, has cancer. During his press conference, his speech was slurred—nearly inaudible. Sheriff Campbell has not made a public speech or appearance with the media as the training of the dispatchers and lack of communication between the deputies and the dispatchers have been highly scrutinized. As it’s been reported, members of Sheriff Campbell’s command staff have spoken on behalf of Sheriff Campbell. The ambush of two deputies after the Leon County Sheriff’s Office had been forewarned is a clear sign of lack of communication not only on the end of the dispatchers but also within the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.
The murder of Florida State University professor Dan Markel is still unsolved—no suspect(s) have been named. Mr. Markel, a native of Toronto, Canada, was murdered back in July 2014. The Leon County Sheriff’s Office has jurisdiction over the murder investigation.
Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney Willie Meggs has at least two children (son and daughter) employed as Leon County Sheriff’s Deputies. A few months ago, it was reported that Mr. Meggs’ daughter was attacked while on duty. The assailant was arrested. Mr. Meggs immediately recused himself from the case. In the case of the two Leon County Deputies being ambushed, it’s been reported that Mr. Meggs’ son, Leon County Sheriff’s Sergeant Wiley Meggs, made an alert into the dispatch system in regards to the danger zone a couple of weeks before the ambush. What the report doesn’t state is if any kind of alert in regards to the danger zone was directly discussed with Sheriff Larry Campbell or any of the members of his command staff. As the report reads, anyone can type in an alert into the system, but if the alert is serious and the danger zone is real—then communication must exceed just a typed notation—fellow law enforcement officers and safety officers deserve better forms of communication.
While many of Floridians—Americans—would like to respect the Campbell’s and the Meggs’ for dedicating their lives to service, unfortunately, Sheriff Campbell, his son, Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell, along with State Attorney Willie Meggs have been scheming, violating laws and being of disservice to the citizens of Tallahassee and the state of Florida—and sadly they are not alone. Over the years, Sheriff Larry Campbell, his son, Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell, along with State Attorney Willie Meggs has committed fraud and has violated the U.S. Constitution. The one and only reason why they have been able to get away with it for so long is because no official wants to be the first official to launch investigation into their offices.
Sheriff Campbell has allowed his friend, Don Odham, a non-employee of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, to act as a Leon County Sheriff’s Detective. Mr. Odham accessed crime scenes, collected evidence, took reports from witnesses, drafted and filed legal documents. Mr. Odham was directly involved in high profile cases—most in which resulted in extremely controversial outcomes. Outcomes so controversial, that the families of the victims and the defendants reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to intervene. However, at the time of the families first reaching out to the FBI, neither family was aware of Mr. Odham not being a full-time certified law enforcement officer. Neither family was aware that Mr. Odham was an impersonator—being supported by the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office.
Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell, his son, Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell, along with State Attorney Willie Meggs presented Mr. Odham to citizens, judges and juries as a Leon County Sheriff’s Detective. Legal documents were drafted by Mr. Odham; approved by the State Attorney’s Office and filed with the Leon County Clerk of Courts identifying Mr. Odham as a Leon County Sheriff’s Detectives.
As Mr. Odham, a former businessman, states the way he became a Leon County Sheriff’s Detective is as follows, “After I sold my business, I was always hanging around the Sheriff’s Office—so they asked me if I wanted to be one of their detectives. I was assigned a car…” Mr. Odham never identifies himself as a Reserve Deputy. All of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office staff members identify Mr. Odham as “Detective Don Odham.”
While it is not known who all within the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office was aware of Mr. Odham being a civilian acting as a detective, it is against the law for anyone to impersonate a law enforcement officer. And it is a violation of Public Trust for elected officials to knowingly support such a criminal act.
It’s been nearly a year since the mother of DeShon Thomas filed several complaints with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs division. DeShon Thomas, a Black male, was a freshman at Tallahassee Community College. DeShon was 17-years-old when the Leon County Sheriff’s Office began investigating him in connection with the January 27, 2011 murder investigation. Mr. Odham played a key role in DeShon being charged with the murders. To date, the complaints against the deputies seem to have been completely ignored. The unethical and unlawful acts committed by Leon County Sheriff’s Deputies and other members of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office played a role in Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell’s unjust and malicious prosecution of DeShon Thomas. The same as State Attorney Willie Meggs recused himself from his daughter’s case—he should have never assigned Jack Campbell to prosecute cases in which his dad has jurisdiction.
There is without a doubt that this generation wants their children to see/know what it’s like to live in a healed society—a society that has left ugly injustices in the past. But Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son, Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell, along with State Attorney Willie Meggs—insist on hindering Tallahassee citizens from progressing. Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son, Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell, along with State Attorney Willie Meggs refuse to allow Floridians—Americans—to heal from ugly wounds of injustice. The trio is so desperate to keep Floridians—Americans—from healing, they used Mr. Odham to get wrongful convictions and give false testimonies—when well trained law enforcement officers wanted to move forward in investigations—in the right direction—to accurately solve crimes. Sheriff Larry Campbell ignored his own deputies—when they wanted to do the right thing.
As tensions run high across the nation in regards to relations between law enforcement officers and communities—it does not help to know that Sheriff Larry Campbell replaced his Black veteran female detective and her team with his wealthy friend—Mr. Odham—a White man who is not creditable neither accountable to Floridians, fellow Americans or foreign tourists.
There are 67 counties within the state of Florida. When a Florida citizen—a fellow American—or a foreign tourist—walk into a county sheriff’s office for whatever reason—and ask to speak with a detective—that person should believe without a doubt that they are going to speak with a detective or some other paid employee of the sheriff’s office who is fully trained to receive and relay information in a professional manner.
On December 18, 2014, President Obama announced the creation of a Task Force on 21st Century Policing. In part, the task force will examine how to strengthen public trust and foster strong relationships between local law enforcement and communities that they protect, while promoting effective crime reduction. Also, the task force is to engage in federal, state, tribal, and local officials; technical advisors; young leaders; and nongovernmental organizations to provide a transparent process to engage with the public.
First and foremost, it is the responsibility of Governor Rick Scott to administer and enforce laws in the state of Florida. Governor Scott has been informed of Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and State Attorney Willie Meggs having committed criminal acts and violating Public Trust. Sheriff Larry Campbell and State Attorney Willie Meggs must be held accountable. In order for the state of Florida—particularly Tallahassee — to effectively move into 21st Century Policing, Sheriff Larry Campbell and State Attorney Willie Meggs must be held accountable.
In order to begin to bridge relations between the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and communities, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Division must properly handle the complaints against those Leon County Sheriff’s Deputies who have violated laws. Ignoring complaints against sworn deputies won’t make the complaints go away. Ignoring complaints against sworn deputies won’t help the community heal.