A police officer who rose through the ranks to become Tallahassee’s first black police chief was named by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist yesterday to head the troubled Department of Juvenile Justice, which has had teenagers die under its care, the Miami Herald reports. Crist appointed Walt McNeil as secretary of the agency a year after Martin Lee Anderson, 14, died after he was kneed and punched by guards at a state boot camp. McNeil is taking a $10,000 pay cut to take the $120,000-a-year job.
McNeil, 51, becomes the second Democrat hired by Crist, a Republican, to fill out his administration. During McNeil’s nine years as Tallahassee chief, he established prevention programs to help at-risk youths. He set up a satellite office in a minority neighborhood to allow residents to file complaints without having to go to police headquarters.