College Partners with Leon County Sheriff’s Office to Reduce Violent Crime

College Partners with Leon County Sheriff’s Office to Reduce Violent Crime

The FSU College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research is partnering with the Leon County Sheriff's Office to reduce violent crime.

In November of 2021, the Sheriff's Office conducted an exploratory review of homicides in Leon County from 2015 to 2020 and concluded that law enforcement couldn't stop violence alone. Additional research, improved data collection and analysis were needed to determine and implement a comprehensive, evidence-based solution.

After contacting Dean Thomas Blomberg at FSU, the Sheriff's Office formalized a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a partnership in their efforts to reduce violent crime.

FSU and LCSO collaboratively applied for the competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and were notified of their award in September 2022.

LCSO and FSU were one of only 52 sites nationally that received a grant from the Community Intervention and Prevention Initiative. The grant, totaling $1,495,663, will enable the Sheriff’s Office to develop and expand the newly launched Council on the Status of Men and Boys. The Council's mission is to "unify existing agencies, organizations, and individuals to coordinate resources, funding, and services under a multi-disciplinary plan for reducing homicides and non-fatal shootings in Leon County."

Leon County Sheriff, Walter McNeil, said, "we are very excited to build on our existing partnership with FSU's nationally recognized College of Criminology and Criminal Justice Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research. Dean Thomas Blomberg and his team will assist the Council with conducting a community violence assessment expanding on the earlier Anatomy of a Homicide to identify evidence-based violence prevention programs."

FSU's grant support includes two phases over three years. In the first phase, led by Dr. Emma Fridel, they will analyze patterns and prevalence of violent crime to determine the scope of the problem, identify trends through available research and statistics and evaluate best practices to reduce violent crime in Leon County.

Dr. Fridel said, "We hope to gain an understanding of where and why violent crimes occur. Once we get that groundwork laid, then that's when we will start working on how to address the problems of violent crime."

In phase two, led by Dr. Kim Davidson, researchers will assist LCSO with implementing the selected programs. Researchers will conduct focus groups and one-on-one interviews with involved parties to gain the feedback needed for LCSO to ensure implementation fidelity with evidence-based best practices. In addition, FSU will track outcomes to determine intervention effectiveness.

Dr. Davidson is excited to bring positive change in her own "backyard," saying, "This is my community. I live here in Leon County, and being able to work on a large-scale research and intervention project to benefit your community is a rarity. It's an incredible feeling."

The research from the first phase, which is beginning now, will result in a detailed report of the violence problem in Leon County, inform the planning committee, and identify evidence-based violence interventions that reduce violent crime in Leon County.

As summarized by Dean Blomberg, "our partnership with the Leon County Sheriff's Office exemplifies the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice's commitment to bringing research to life to reduce the pain and suffering of crime and criminal victimization."

Dr. Thomas Blomberg, Dean and Sheldon L. Messenger Professor of Criminology, Executive Director, Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research.  Dr. Blomberg received his Ph.D. in Criminology from the University of California at Berkeley.  His research is focused upon identifying ways to effectively link research knowledge to public policy.

Dr. Emma Fridel, Assistant Professor, received her Ph.D. in Criminology and Justice Policy from Northeastern University. She primarily studies violence and aggression with a focus on homicide, including school violence, homicide–suicide, serial and mass murder, and fatal officer-citizen encounters.

Dr. Kimberly Davidson, Assistant Professor, received her Ph.D. in Criminology from The Pennsylvania State University. Her research focuses on corrections, programming and rehabilitation, community reentry, and substance use.