The Money and the Myths

N e w s     S e c t i o n

Copyright 1997 The Pensacola News Journal. All rights reserved
Escambia sheriff disputes claims of crime reduction 

By Amie K. Streater
News Journal staff writer 

PENSACOLA - Brownsville Revival leaders claim the revival has reduced crime in the Pensacola area. 

Statistics and statements from the county 's top law enforcement officer show otherwise. 

The Escambia County Sheriff 's Office crimes and arrests statistics show that crime actually rose in 1996 compared to 1995, the year the revival began. 

The actual number of crimes rose 3 percent, from 13,121 in 1995 to 13,502 in 1996. The data is for the seven index crimes tracked by law enforcement nationwide: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft. 

Escambia Sheriff Jim Lowman said he can 't see that the revival has had a great impact on the crime figures. 

"But if they make crime go away, we 'll give them all the credit," he said. 

Revival leaders have also claimed that law enforcement officers are so impressed by the revival that on occasion they have hauled suspects into the revival instead of taking them to jail. 

That has never happened, Lowman said, and it simply could not happen because it would be a violation of law enforcement procedure. 

"If we have someone in custody, based on the statutes, taking them to church, any church, is not an option," Lowman said. 

"We don 't have any information that indicates we have ever done that, nor has any other law enforcement agency." 

Jerry Potts, Pensacola Police assistant chief, said that a number of people have asked him if there is any truth to that story. 

Potts said, emphatically, that none of his officers ever took such action. 

"We just don 't do that kind of thing," he said 

Revival leaders have also claimed the revival is reducing juvenile crime, and they point to crime data to prove their claim. 

Law enforcement officials say that data tells only part of the story. 

The revival leaders are citing state figures for the number of juveniles taken into custody, not the number of arrests or crimes for which they were arrested. 

Escambia Sheriff 's Office statistics show that juvenile arrests almost doubled in 1996 compared to the year before, increasing from 1,243 to 2,392.

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All content © 1997 The Pensacola News Journal, a Gannett company.