During the October 27th Tallahassee City Commission meeting, Police Chief Lawrence Revell addressed appearance at a Billy Graham Evangelical Association religious retreat for law enforcement executives.
During the last two city commission meetings, there has been a public outcry for the city to take action against Chief Revell for speaking to other heads of departments during the retreat. Some speakers suggested Chief Revell should be fired.
The LGBTQ+ community has voiced great concern due to the views of Billy Graham organization. At the same time, others complained that the chief’s appearance during the event wearing TPD clothing violates the separation of church and state.
Commissioner Jack Porter suggested having Chief Revell address the commissioners and the public about his interactions and attendance at the retreat. Porter said she had received many concerned emails, and she too has worries regarding some of the comments made during his speech.
“I do not feel resolved with the issue, and I agree that everywhere we go, we do not stop being commissioners,” Porter said.
“I will proudly stand on my record not only as Chief of Police but on 30 years with the police department,” Revell said. He continued addressing the concerns regarding discrimination, mainly made by the LGBTQ+ community.
Revell stated that the way he treats the officers under him and how he serves the Tallahassee community will never include discrimination. Revell also noted that TPD has a long history of hiring and promoting members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Commissioner Jeremy Matlow queried whether any policies were made during the event that would impact the department, to which Revell responded quickly, “absolutely not.”
Matlow also questioned City Manager Reese Goad about what policies are in place regarding speaking engagements. Though it was a law enforcement retreat, it appears as if Revell was representing Tallahassee, as he was wearing a TPD polo at the event, speaking as a police chief.
According to Goad, there are policies in place. Revell had requested the time off and cleared the event with the Deputy City Manager, Cynthia Barber, the chief’s direct supervisor. Furthermore, it was established in advance that Revell would be paid for his appearance, and according to legal counsel, this was acceptable.
Commissioner Dianne Willaims-Cox disagreed with the sentiment that one is “never off duty” and said that even public servants have personal lives. “We did not sell our souls and ourselves to these positions,” she said. “We are public servants. And even public servants need some time off. We do have lives outside of this.”