Tallahassee, FL: Do Tallahassee officials suffer from amnesia? Or do they simply just enjoy rewarding men who disrespect women and laws?
In the 2012 campaign for Leon County Sheriff, instead of the sixteen year incumbent, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell, welcoming the first women in the history of Tallahassee to challenge him for Leon County Sheriff—Sheriff Campbell threatened to shoot her—to use her as target practice. Lisa Sprague, a White woman, ran against Sheriff Campbell without all of the unnecessary name calling. According to an article on Newtrajectory, Sheriff Larry Campbell states, “I told somebody the other day we have police standards we have to keep up, that we have to our pistol proficiency up. And that we have to keep our other police professional standards up. And I had invited the other candidates if they don’t think I can do it, go down and let me shoot at you and see if I can do it any good.” It was also reported that Sheriff Larry Campbell referred to Ms. Sprague as “the Bitch.”
When is it ever ok for anyone, let alone an elected sheriff, to threaten to shoot a woman or anyone else for that matter?
In an Ethics complaint dismissed by the Ethics Commission, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell, along with his son, Assistant State Attorney, Jack Campbell, made special provisions at the Leon County Jail for former Leon County Jail inmate, Conor McBride. In March 2010, Conor McBride was booked into the Leon County Jail for shooting his girlfriend nineteen-year-old girlfriend, Ann Grosmaire in the face with a shotgun at pointblank range, as she knelt on the floor crying. It was reported that Anne had put her hand up to protect her face, but the force from the shotgun blew a portion of her hand off and traveled into her head—leaving just the brainstem intact. State Attorney Willie Meggs assigned Assistant State Prosecutor Jack Campbell to prosecute the case against Conor McBride. Not long after Ann’s murder, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell violated several Florida Model Jail standards by arranging for Leon County Jail inmate, Conor McBride, to have a contact visit—including no handcuffs—with his (Conor) parents, as well as, Ann’s parents in a room inside of the Leon County Jail. Only the Campbell family would believe that a man, who murders in helpless girlfriend in cold-blood, deserves special provisions inside the Leon County Jail.
People who suffer from abuse look for safe havens for assistance. How does naming the Leon County Sheriff’s Office Administrative Building to Larry Campbell Administration Building begin to define a safe haven or place of trust in a community that is fully aware of the EVIL that once ruled? Many public schools, buildings and monuments that are named after those with historical ties to racism and/or severe mistrust amongst the citizens of the community, are being renamed or dismantled. The Leon County Sheriff’s Office Administrative Building was not safe when Sheriff Larry Campbell was in office and probably won’t be safe until the citizens of Leon County elect a sheriff who does not owe thanks to Sheriff Larry Campbell for their many years of sleazy service.
During his time in office, Sheriff Larry Campbell replaced a team of veteran detectives with a supposed volunteer deputy, on a double homicide investigation. The supposed volunteer deputy, a wealthy close family friend named Don Odham, played cop, for many years. But no matter how many years Don Odham spent playing cop that did not make Don Odham mentally stable of actually embrace the true responsibilities and understandings of what all goes along with being a real law enforcement officer. Sheriff Larry Campbell having replaced Leon County Sheriff’s Detective Melinda McBride, a Black woman, with Don Odham, a White man, proves that not only did Sheriff Larry Campbell show favoritism while in office (violate the law), but that Sheriff Larry Campbell showed a lack of respect for a woman leader within his office, as well as a lack of honor for those full-time women and men who worked hard to build their career to serve the community. It is against policy for a volunteer deputy to do detective work. Leon County Sheriff’s Sergeant Brian Pearson committed perjury in order to cover for the Campbell’s. There is no telling how many criminal cases Don Odham was allowed to botch under Sheriff Larry Campbell’s rule. Sheriff Larry Campbell may have paid for Don Odham to receive training versus paying for the training of full-time law enforcement officers. Don Odham stated that he was assigned his own patrol car to take home.
After Sheriff Larry Campbell’s death in December 2014, Governor Rick Scott soon appointed Mike Wood, a Leon County Sheriff’s Sergeant with a checkered past (drugs), that owed all of his 30 plus years of law enforcement experience to Sheriff Larry Campbell. Mike Wood had retired from the Leon County Sheriff’s Office in June 2014. Mike Wood was set to receive six figures during his retirement.
Many women and men with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, serve in their respected positions without threatening to shoot someone or have a checkered past. As leaders and others strive to honor the late Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell, there will be others, many within the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, who will remember Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell for the many negative attributes Sheriff Campbell showed to while in office and to the community—including his threat to shoot the first woman in Tallahassee to ever seek the position as Leon County Sheriff in order to prove his manhood; replacing veteran detectives with his volunteer friend, Don Odham; and, as some have mentioned, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell’s refusal to pronounce “Leon” correctly because it sounded too much like the name of a Black man.
Naming the Leon County Sheriff’s Office Administrative Building after Larry Campbell was an irresponsible decision by Tallahassee leaders. When the decision is made to honor someone it is HIGHLY IRRESPONSIBLE for leaders to overlook those dishonorable acts of a person. Nobody is perfect, but every man, woman and child deserves to be respected. That did not happen under Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell’s rule.
As this country strives to move forward with Race Relations and Criminal Justice Reform, Tallahassee leaders must know that there is more to moving forward into the 21st Century era than passing an Anti-Corruption Amendment. Tallahassee leaders must rid the community of the thought of such disgusting “cancer cells” that used to plague the community and do everything possible from coming back.
Fortunately, buildings can be renamed.