TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — New billboards on the northeast side of Tallahassee are now raising eyebrows. The digital sign shows a young woman in a graduation cap. The words read "Thinking of sending your child to college in Tallahassee? Think again." Just below, "Tallahassee is the fifth most dangerous city in Florida."
What's most shocking to many is who's behind the message. The Big Bend Police Benevolent Association, Tallahassee's police union. The Big Bend PBA did not respond to requests for more information from ABC 27. The billboard cites the National Council for Home Safety and Security Report of 2020 as its source for the high crime rate.
ABC 27 sat down with Police Chief Lawrence Revell to take a closer look at crime in the area.
"Overall crime is down 20 percent. That's a very positive thing. We are having a tremendously positive impact there. Violent crime is up," said Chief Revell.
Data from the Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report from the FBI shows Leon County saw a 7.9 percent increase in crime when comparing the first six months of 2019 to the first 6 months of 2020. Complete data for 2020 isn't available yet.
In the first six months of 2019, Leon County saw 11 murders. The county saw 13 for the same time frame one year later, according to the Uniform Crime Report. Leon County responded to nearly 30 murders in the capital city in 2020.
"I know our officers love this community and our officers protect this community every single day and do a phenomenal job," said Chief Revell.
The Chief also said cross-county crime led to an increase for Tallahassee's numbers last year.
"We know that 10 of our homicides were directly related to Gadsden County. They're not to blame. I worked with the sheriff, but crime doesn't respect boundaries," said Revell.
Revell said without those crimes, the city could have seen a three to four year low in violent crimes. However, those numbers aren't how he measures the success of his team.
"I measure success where crime is concerned as do the members of our community feel safer or less safe. If they feel safer, then good job. If they feel less safe, then we have more work to do," he said.
Chief Revell said he is staying out of the back-and-forth with the PBA. The Chief does not sit on its board nor does he have anything to do with the negotiations.