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Lawrence Revell Sworn In As Tallahassee's New Chief Of Police

A man in a police uniform smiles in front of an American flag
Tallahassee Police Department

Tallahassee’s new police chief took his oath of office at the Jack McClean Community Center Monday morning. Lawrence Revell says he’s looking to the future and ready to move forward. But some members of the community remain concerned about the new chief’s past.

Outside the community center,  voices rise as police ask a handful of protestors not to block the sidewalks. They’re holdings signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “No Hate No Fear.”

"It's our first amendment right," one of the protesters yells.

Denzel Pierre is part of the group. He says they're concerned about Revell’s involvement in the 1996 shooting of young black man. Revell shot and killed 19 year-old George Williams as TPD was attempting to arrest him. Williams jumped in his car and backed over one officer, then drove toward Revell. Revell repeatedly shouted at Williams to stop before shooting him. A grand jury cleared Revell of any wrongdoing and Revell has called the incident one of the saddest days of his life, but Pierre says he's still worried about Revell leading the city's police department.

“We think that not only was his conduct in this case completely unjust and lacking complete and total credibility. We think Lawrence Revell has shown throughout the years that he refuses to embrace real structural change in both his positions and opinions, but also in his care and his ability to give back to give back to the community for the injustice that he committed,” Pierre says.

Meanwhile inside the community center, Revell was cheered by family, friends and community members as he swore his oath of office.

Revell says he believes he has the support of the community.

“I think you can tell by the turnout today and the turnout we’ve had at the press conferences—the prayer support from the religious leaders has been amazing. You will always have detractors and they totally have the right to voice their opinions. I only look for the opportunity to sit down and have those conversations and see if they’re willing to allow me to at least address those concerns that they may have,” Revell says.

Revell says he’s already begun meeting with other law enforcement leaders in the area in an effort to find ways to work together to reduce violent crime.

Where we have much more of a force number wise others have more resources. Obviously the universities have more resources than we have. So that’s what I mean by those collaborative efforts of coming together and trying to work through those things. So when we talk about LPRs and shot protection—that technology is amazing technology, but it’s also expensive technology so if we can share those costs, everybody wins,” Revell says.

Revell says he also wants to create a plan that helps participants in Tallahassee's TEMPO program go on to become community service officers. TEMPO works with underserved youth who are not working or attending school.

“And then there’s a clear pathway from that to sworn officers and then we’ll take them once they’re sworn officers, put them right back in the communities they grew up in, just like me, and then they can be role models in that community and instant mentors, so CSOs, the requirements aren’t quite as strict as they are for sworn officers. So that will help with that progression. It will get us help for our officers right now with helping for calls for service and it will help as we move forward to get more people in the department as officers,” Revell says.

Revell is stepping into the job of chief after Antonio Gilliam rescinded his acceptance of the position. In a letter Gilliam said he was frustrated by the negotiating process with the city. He wanted contract that would guarantee he’d be allowed to select his own command staff. But rumors arrose that Gilliam would be pushed to name Revell as his second in command.

Follow @Regan_McCarthy

Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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