‘Think Again’: PBA billboard critiques crime rates, asking for contracts to be negotiated

Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 6:36 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2021 at 12:18 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Police Benevolent Association is making a statement. Late Tuesday, billboards sprung up across Tallahassee, criticizing the City and Tallahassee police for what they believe to be high crime rates in Florida’s capital.

This is all stemming from contract negotiations with the Big Bend PBA and the City of Tallahassee, which are currently at an impasse.

If you drive past Thomasville Road off 1-10, you have probably seen the billboard. While some might think that the call to action is a blow to the City’s police force, the President of the Big Bend PBA, Richard Murphy, says he put it up, in the hopes of extending an olive branch.

The electronic billboard tells those looking to settle in Tallahassee, to “think again.”

“We can do better,” said Murphy. “and we want to do better.”

Murphy said the reason he wanted to post the claims of being the fifth most dangerous city in Florida was simply to educate the public, not to divide themselves from TPD.

“So, we can build support for the police department,” explained Murphy. “So that we can work with staff and recruiting, retention and we can get a contract that would also help with recruitment and retention.”

Murphy’s billboard references their claims to the National Council for Home Safety and Security Report of 2020. This report uses data from 2,831 law enforcement agencies, along with a FBI Uniform Crime Statistics Report.

Out of 129 Florida cities, Tallahassee sits at 124, putting it as the fifth most dangerous city in the Sunshine State.

Last year, the report shares we had 10,099 crimes in Tallahassee. The crime rate, out of 1,000 is 52.48. Law enforcement, at that same rate of 1,000, was 2.32.

Murphy believes those staffing shortages affect response to a call, and in turn, result in more crime.

“I don’t think it’s the only reason, but do I think it’s a big contributor?” asks Murphy. “Absolutely.”

The billboard goes on to ask parents to not send their students here.

William Monroe is a sophomore at FSU and the Orlando native says, “I mean, like, every city has crime.”

Rafaella Izquierdo says while she is always cautious, at night she gets worried. “It isn’t safe,” Izquierdo said. “I’m not going to lie it is a little bit unsafe.”

Another student, Natalie Gonzalez shared, “I’ve heard there’s high crime, but I’ve never seen or felt it...I’ve always felt very safe in this city.”

The city released the following statement on behalf of City Manager Reese Goad, who the billboard specifically calls to take action.

“It’s extremely disheartening to see the PBA union resort to negative publicity tactics aimed at our community, which their members at the police department work so hard to protect. We remain committed to ensuring fair compensation for the brave men and women who serve us every day.”

City Manager Reese Goad

Murphy said that his hope with the billboards, now visible to every car that passes by, is to have the city reconsider their contracts and wages, and “invest in public safety.”

“The community will see what is going on in law enforcement,” Murphy said. “They will ask the city manager and the city commission to give us a fair wage in our contract. And also ask the city manager and the city commission to address the staffing crisis at the police department.”

WCTV requested an on-camera interview with TPD’s Police Chief and City Manager. Chief Revel and the department have not yet released any response to the billboards.

Murphy met with WCTV in between mediation meetings. Negotiations are ongoing.

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