Click on the title above to watch the July 25, 2017, 3rd Anniversary Commemoration of the LEAD Coalition's founding held at the Bay County Commission meeting Room. Local speakers included Dr. Tammy Anderson, JUDOS; Mr. Timothy Brown, Save Our Youth; Mr. J. C. Carlisle, Kingdom Agenda; Ms. Detra Gainer, Home for Good; and Ms. Judy Stapleton, Count Me In. Home for Good and Count Me In were two initiatives that came out of the Voices against Violence dialogues. Also speaking at the July 25th event were Capt. William T. Halvosa, Gainesville Police Department, and Mr. Eugene Morris, DJJ Special Projects Administrator.
Our mission is to facilitate collaborative work toward ending violence and creating a safer community in the City of Panama City and its surrounding areas through crime prevention, civic engagement, public health and education, safe and quality housing, community and economic development and public policy.
The LEAD Coalition of Bay County is a diverse, public-private partnership among cross sector community organizations. LEAD is an acronym for Leadership, Empowerment, and Authentic Development.
Our Guiding Principles
• Freedom from fear is a basic human right.
• People of all races, classes, ages and sexual orientation and in all communities have the right to be free from violence in homes, schools, workplaces, and on the streets.
• Violence must be addressed holistically as a health, safety, social and economic problem. It costs our communities in lives lost, diminished potential, and millions of dollars.
• These problems are bigger than the individuals, agencies, organizations and businesses and cannot be resolved by individual efforts.
• Only through collaborative processes will this community generate complimentary actions that create sustainable social change and achieve the mission.
The LEAD Coalition of Bay County was organized following the murder of Tavish Greene , whose body was found in the trunk of a car on July 24, 2014.
Unfortunately, Greene's murder was not the last one in 2014. Three more young men between the ages of 17- and 29-years-old would be killed before the year ended a total of 10 homicides, nine of them under age 30 including two 17-year-olds.
The LEAD Coalition and CrimeStoppers successfully worked together last year to encourage residents in crime hot spot communities to phone or text in their tips. "If you see something, say something," repeated the canvassers to residents. "You are not alone."
On November 20 the LEAD Coalition of Bay County was formally organized with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding among the Bay County Sheriff's Department, Bay District Schools, City of Panama City, Panama City Police Department and Gulf Coast State College.
"The many tragedies, the many kids dying, young people dying, this is very unusual," said Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen. This will require a long-term effort and something law enforcement can't fix alone, he added.
Data Analysis of the Problem
Bay County, Florida, is a small metropolitan area based on its 2013 population of 174,987 residents, but its violent crime rates are comparable to the state's largest metropolitan areas. In 2014, this situation was illuminated by an unprecedented spike in gun violence between May and July. Over a nine-week period, there were seven murders by gunshot. Six of those murdered were black males between the ages of 17 and 25 and occurred in the city of Panama City, FL, the county seat, which has a population of 36,877. There are two parts to the problem:
Violent crime in Bay County, Florida, places it on par with the state's largest metropolitan areas; and The largest single group that is driving the violent crime rate up in Bay County is African-American males between the ages of 14 and 25 who use firearms.
While the numbers are small, the Age-Adjusted Homicide Single Year Rate for Bay County has climbed since 2008 when it hit 8.1 and exceeded the state rate. In 2009, the rate dropped to 4.9 and was below the state rate. From 2010 to 2012, the rate has exceeded the state rate.
Thus, the 2009 drop in the rate was an anomaly as the steady increase continued in 2010. The Single-Year Rate peaked at 9.0 in 2011, 3.3 percentage points ahead of the state.
The year 2006, however, recorded the first time that the Homicides by Firearms Discharge Rate, Single Year Rates of blacks exceeded that of whites in Bay County. In that year, 2 blacks died as a result of gun-related murder and no whites died from that cause. The rate for blacks is 6.7 for that year, compared to zero for whites. And that rate of 6.7 is 86% higher than Bay County's 2005 rate of 3.6 percent.
In the four following years, Homicide by Firearms Discharge Rate ranged between 3.3 and 3.7; however, 2009 is a significant year because the 3.7 rate for blacks is twice the 1.7 rate for whites in Bay County. Then in 2011, the Bay County Homicides by Firearms Discharge Rate of 12.2 by blacks nearly doubled from the year before (6.3 to 12.2), and it exceeded the 10.2 rate for blacks statewide. This chart on the left depicting the 3-year rolling rates show that Homicide by Firearms Discharge by Blacks & Others is the highest depicted and has been on a steady climb since 2007.
Below, the first map shows how Bay County's population ranks it among the least populated counties in the state. The second map shows that Bay County's Homicide Age-Adjusted Death Rate, shaded dark blue, is ranked with the largest counties, including Miami-Dade, Duval, Palm Beach, but none of the counties with which it is ranked in population. The single year dip in 2013 could be interpreted as an anomaly, which turned out to be the case. There were 12 murders in Bay County in 2014. Seven of them occurred within the boundaries of two Census Tracts, 16 and 17 in the City of Panama City. The map in the middle shows that Bay County's homicide age-adjusted death rate over a three-year period is among the highest in the state.
The Panama City Police Department has identified the 12 hot spots for weapons and 14 for drugs within the city. Of the total, 67% (8/12) of the weapons and 71% (10/14) of the drug hot spots are in Census Tracts 16 and 17 neighborhoods more commonly known as Glenwood and Millville where 70% (7/10) of the homicides occurred in 2014.
These two neighborhoods cover 3.48 miles and are home to 6,725 residents, which is 4% of the county and 18% of Panama City's population. The crime and demographics reports of these two neighborhoods mirror the statistics for homicides among young black males in larger metropolitan areas nationally, as well as throughout the state.