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Activists denounce Tallahassee police chief’s speech at religious retreat

Major Lawrence Revell works in TPD's Criminal Investigative division; he's been at the...
Major Lawrence Revell works in TPD's Criminal Investigative division; he's been at the department since 1992. (Image via TPD)(WCTV)
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 3:12 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – A coalition of activist groups is calling on the city to denounce and demote Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell after he spoke at a religious retreat in September.

Revell took part in a law enforcement conference last month at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in North Carolina.

The activists call the BGEA “one of the nation’s most notorious anti-LGBTQ+ Christian right groups.”

“Chief Revell’s public leadership as Chief of Police at such an event furthers an atmosphere of discrimination, intimidation and harassment against the LGBTQIA+ and non-Christian population in Tallahassee,” according to the groups.

The coalition is also questioning whether Revell improperly espouses his religious beliefs on the job, after his speech encouraged law enforcement leaders to talk to officers about their faith. “What is your agenda for presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to your officers?” Revell said, in an audio recording of the speech obtained by Our Tallahassee.com.

The activists plan to hold a news conference Thursday at city hall, calling on the mayor and city commissioners to denounce Revell’s actions, and asking that he be removed as police chief. Groups involved include the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, Florida Coalition for Transgender Liberation, Tallahassee Students for a Democratic Society, Tallahassee National Organization for Women, Florida Council of Churches, Planned Parenthood, Gender Odyssey at FSU, and Islamic Center of Tallahassee.

Revell says he appeared at the conference on his own time, and he is entitled to his religious beliefs.

“I was off duty when I went and did that,” Revell told WCTV. “I am more than willing to have conversations with anybody about my record as police chief, about how I performed as police chief. I have my personal beliefs. I’m entitled to those just like anybody else is entitled to their beliefs, and what I do off duty is just that. It’s what I do off duty.”

Revell dismissed ethical concerns about the appearance. He says attending the conference did not have to be cleared with city leadership because he did it on his own time.

“I’m more than willing to talk about on duty, my record, and I stand by that. The Tallahassee Police Department has a very long history of not only hiring, but supporting and promoting, including myself, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and I stand by that,” Revell said.

“The real concern, I would hope, would be any differential treatment of members of the community or members of my department and I can assure you that never happens and that never will happen,” Revell told WCTV.

Speakers expected at the Thursday news conference include Reverend Tom Holdcroft with the Florida Council of Churches and Barbara DeVane with the Tallahassee National Organization for Women.

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