Ministers supporting Revell for job of TPD chief

By St. Clair Murraine

Outlook staff writer

Citing Maj. Lawrence Revell’s knowledge of the city and his ties to the Southside, a prominent minister is backing the veteran law enforcement officer to become the next chief of Tallahassee Police Department.

Rev. Joseph Wright stated his position at press conference last week when he and Rev. Dr. Robert Butler Jr. explained their support for Revell. Wright, pastor of Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, said Revell is a worthy candidate despite questions raised recently about his involvement in the shooting of a Tallahassee teenager more than 20 years ago. 

Rev. Joseph Wright, minister at Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, last week announced his support for TPD chief candidate Maj. Lawrence Revell.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

Revell, who is White, is vying against St. Petersburg Deputy Chief Antonio Gilliam and TPD Major Lonnie Scott for the top cop job.

“It’s an issue where we have a White candidate and two other Black candidates pursuing a job as chief of police for the city,” said Wright, who also is president of Tallahassee Inter-denominational Ministerial Alliance. “I believe that the best choice, the most equipped candidate should get strong consideration. 

“Revell is one of us. Not saying that the other candidates are not qualified, but when it comes down to making a decision (on) who is the most qualified, I think in this case it’s Lawrence Revell.”

Going even further with his reason for endorsing Revell, 52, Wright said the officer is a licensed ordained minister. Wright said his position is strengthened by knowing that Revell graduated from Rickards High School on the Southside and is also a FAMU grad who played on the baseball team.

This is not the first time that Wright has spoken out in a city-related hiring. In Jan. 2018, he was one of several ministers who stood with Rev. R. B. Holmes and called on the city to hire Cassandra Jackson as city attorney. He was also there when the Black clergy stood behind Temple Israel on hate crimes and when Black ministers spoke out against the treatment of immigrant children in the summer of 2018.

Holmes, minister at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, praised the selection process without backing a specific candidate.

“I will support the person who the City Manager Reese Goad selects to be our next chief,” Holmes said in a statement, reacting last Monday in his role as president of the local chapter of the National Action Network. “It is clear to me that the three finalists are highly qualified and gifted persons. The city manager did a remarkable job of selecting a cross-section of community leaders to serve on the selection panel. The panel has spoken; we all must accept the decision and positively move forward. 

“It is unfortunate that race has been injected into the process. I believe the city manager will select the best candidate regardless of race.”

Revell has been at the center of County Commissioner Bill Proctor’s call for a do-over of the search process. His claim that background checks weren’t thorough and if they were done Revell’s shooting of George “Lil Nuke” Williams  would have been an issue. 

However, Revell was cleared by a grand jury, which Wright pointed out. The police report on the incident, which occurred while Revell was on duty, explained that he was with other officers serving a warrant. A scuffle ensued and the suspect tried to drive away, hitting another officer with a car.

Ironically, Revell was greeted by a standing ovation when he spoke during a recent meet-and-greet held for the candidates. During his presentation, he outlined his plan of action for revamping TPD.

At one point, though, he spoke as if he was responding to the recent outcry. 

“It’s time to put aside the nonsense and come together,” he said.

One way he said he’ll do that is to have a citizen advisory council. At the same time, he said social media will be relied on to keep the community informed of what’s going on with TPD.

City manager Goad said he intends to have a new chief of police in place to start the new year.  Meanwhile, he encouraged the community to comment on the candidates, who he said were all impressive during their presentations.

“There were no negative vibes,” Goad said. “It was more in the positive. They were here to listen and they responded to different elements in every candidate. I was really, really encouraged by the feedback and participation.”

Wright said he hopes to meet with Goad to personally express his support for Revell before the final choice is made.

“He is a very personable young man and therefore I think he is the better choice,” Wright said. “He has the skills (and) he is a “hometown boy.

 “He has been around awhile and he knows the city well.”

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