WCTV speaks with each Tallahassee Police Chief finalist

Published: Nov. 18, 2019 at 8:33 PM EST
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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News

November 18, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- On Monday, WCTV interviewed Major Lawrence Revell, Deputy Chief Antonio Gilliam, and Major Lonnie Scott, the three finalists for the Tallahassee Police Chief.

You can provide input on the candidates

The Tallahassee branch of the NAACP

which showcase the backgrounds of each finalist.

Below is what they said ahead of Monday night's meet and greet with the public.

Major Lawrence Revell works in the Criminal Investigation Division of TPD. He has been a member of the department since 1992.

"I never wanted to live anywhere else. And I've spent 28 years at this police department, policing this community and relating to this community. So those positive relationships that have been built over that time will be instrumental," said Revell.

He said his number one goal is to restore the trust between TPD and the community.

"That is far and away, my top priority," said Revell. "I will make sure as chief that our officers are involved in the community. They have to know, our entire community has to know that we care about them, not just enforcing the laws. So we have to be about that, we're going to be out, we're going to do programs, we're going to do Big Brothers and Big Sisters, we're going to be in the schools."

His second goal would be to address staffing issues at TPD.

"Much of what we need to do to address crime in our community deals directly with our ability to fill the positions that we have, reduce the amount of time our officers are spending answering calls for service, and allowing them to do more community policing, because that takes time," said Revell.

His third goal would be to lead the community through community-led policing.

"What I mean by that is, that's the partnership with the community, that's where community trust in the police department is to the point where citizens will come forward, they will talk about things they've seen," said Revell. "When you get from community policing to community-led policing, that's where you can truly make a difference in crime."

Revell's goal of reducing crime involves Tallahassee's TEMPO program.

"Work with the TEMPO program to take the disconnected youth from our community, create a clear pathway to a CSO, Community Service Officer, because those requirements don't have to be as strict as a sworn officer. And from there, once they've done that for two, three years whatever we determine that time is, and proven themselves in that job, then we move them to a sworn officer position."

Revell hopes after moving the disconnected youth through the department in his plan, they will be role models to others in their community.

Antonio Gilliam is currently the Deputy Chief of the St. Petersburg Police Department.

"My family's here, my friends are here, this is home. The quality #1 is you have to know the area, you have to really I think have a passion for the area, and a passion for the people, which I do have," he said.

He said his number one priority is to bring the community and the police department together.

"We have to strengthen the bond between the police and community," said Gilliam.

Gilliam's second priority would be to hire more police officers. TPD currently has 44 vacancies, including the chief position.

"That's a national issue, it's a national trend, there's difficult hiring nationwide, not just here in Tallahassee," said Gilliam.

His third goal is tackling crime.

"These crime numbers cannot continue," he said. "I want to try different strategies to make sure we implement plans to at least lower the amount of shootings. I don't know if we can ever stop it completely, but I think we can do a lot more to lower the amount of shootings and the number of illegal guns throughout the community.

Gilliam turned to his previous experience at the St. Petersburg Police Department.

"Our closure rate in arresting, apprehending individuals that are shooting other individuals, we've had high success back home. There are different ways, maybe there's different areas of training, maybe is redeploying resources in different places. But I know something has to change, we can't continue with the status quo."

He said part of reducing crime will be community policing, and officers getting to know those that they work for.

"I think citizens feel more comfortable when they see a diverse police department, that will be one of the first things I work on," said Gilliam. "We're going to get out of our cars and talk to people, we're going to chit-chat. Our officers, everyone from the lowest level, rookie officer all the way to the police chief."

Major Lonnie Scott is currently in the Administrative Services Bureau at TPD and has prior experience at the Gainesville Police Department.

"I think a manager can instruct folks to do what they want done, a leader inspires them. I want to inspire people here," said Scott.

His top priority as Chief would be to create a task force on recruiting and retention for TPD officers.

"To do anything effectively, we have to have the personnel to do it," said Major Scott.

He would use community members on the task force.

"We would be enticing and soliciting community members to sit on that panel and to help us identify what we need to do to better our chances as far as recruiting and how to maintain diversity," said Scott.

His second goal would be reducing gun violence in the area, partnering with schools, the Sheriff's Office, and focus groups around the community.

"We talk with the parents, we talk with the chiefs, we talk with everybody else, but none of us is actually sitting down and talking with the students, with the young folks who are actually committing these crimes," he said.

Scott's third priority would be to restore public trust by creating an Office of Communications.

"Concentrate not just on external communications, but internal. I want to form a Citizens Advisory Council so we can show people what we are doing," said Scott. "One of the thing that we are missing, is to have that liason; I need someone that knows the community, that has respect in

the community, to sit down and express concerns. Because I am in a room now with folks in the command staff that don't have the knowledge that I think is needed to communicate effectively with the community."

He also wants to focus on community policing.

"We need to create a network of Crime Watchers that are effective. Right now, we are not talking with citizens," said Scott. "Getting the citizens involved, getting them actively involved in crime watchers. Every neighborhood should have a neighborhood crime watch. And letting the citizens know that we're not visiting, we're not going to leave, we're in it for the long haul. I want to assign officers to permanent areas, so that you know, this officer works your area."

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