Blue Print Panel Committee set to assist TPD

A Blue Print Committee that Rev. Joseph Wright (center) will lead includes pastor Judy Mandrell (left) and attorney Tiffany Baker (right). Photo by St. Clair Murraine

By St. Clair Murraine

Outlook staff writer

The first of two committees that are expected to make crime-fighting recommendations to new Tallahassee police chief Lawrence Revell was formed last Thursday at a meeting where the panel’s focus was outlined.

Rev. RB Holmes, minister at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, announced that a Blue Print Panel Committee will begin work on suggestions for curbing crime. Rev. Joseph Wright, pastor at Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church and president of Tallahassee Ministerial Alliance, will chair the group.

The 25-member committee is made up of a cross-section of the community.

“We are up and ready and willing to work,” Wright said.

Revell also attended the meeting, which took place just days after he named three deputies as part of his command staff.

They are Maurice Holmes, Tonja Bryant-Smith and Chief Jason Laursen. Holmes praised the appointments, which include a Black female and a Black male.

“Those are historic appointments,” he said. “They are not being appointed because of skin color. They are highly qualified.”

Revell also reiterated that he will form an advisory committee that pastor Rudy Ferguson will head up.

Since his appointment to the job, Revell has been advocating for community policing.

“We cannot do this alone,” he said. “We will be in the community and we will partner with each one of you; come along side of you in everything we plan to do. This group is going to be vital to leading that charge.

“It’s vitally important for us to hear what the community is saying and then address how we police this community according to what our community wants. The people that are coming together in the city to fight the crime that we have amaze me.”

The committee that Holmes announced will concentrate on four areas:

1. To identify, support and strengthen at-risk programs that target high crime in disadvantaged neighborhoods

2. To work in collaboration with the chief of police, the Leon County Sheriff and other law enforcement agencies to comeback crime in our community.

3. To review and implement policies that will effectively strengthen police and community relations 

4. To present a ‘white paper” summation of the pan’s findings and priority recommendations.

 In addition, Wright also gave the group a handout that outlined what he and another group proposed for fighting crime a year ago. He suggested that the information he handed out could be a starting point for the committee.

“Take a look at it,” he said. “Some of these ideas might be radical. Some of these ideas might be challenging politically. But in order to bring reform to where we want to go, it’s going to take some guts. It’s going to take going against the grain.”