ORLANDO, Fla. - The University of Central Florida Police Department (UCFPD) is pulling its officers from the protests in Downtown Orlando.
For about a week straight now, protesters have marched through Downtown Orlando, demanding justice for George Floyd and denouncing both police brutality and racism.
Much of the protesting has been peaceful, but there have been altercations between officers and protesters where tear gas and pepper spray has been used. 88 arrests have been made since the protesting started.
UCF Police Chief Carl Metzger said he had heard the campus community's voices and agreed to withdraw UCF officers from participation after 15 UCFPD officers had been assigned to downtown protest patrol and protection.
“They were briefed...they knew what their mission was, and it was to keep the peace," Metzger said of the officers. “Upon hearing from our student body, it was brought to my attention that they were very upset that our police department was out there.,”
On Wednesday evening, Metzger tweeted that it is no longer necessary for his officers to be out there.
"I am committed to listening to our community and to leading UCFPD in doing the right thing," Metzger wrote in the tweet
He goes on to state that the UCFPD has a special relationship with our students and faculty and staff members that relies on mutual trust, understanding, and respect.
"My interests are in maintaining that relationship while also prioritizing our community's safety. It is my sincere hope that the demonstrations remain peaceful, but if conditions change, UCFPD may be called upon to provide assistance in the interest of community safety and in accordance with our department's policies and practices," he added.
The Chief closed by stating that the UCFPD will "remain committed to listening, learning, and growing alongside our community. We are a stronger UCF when we stand together."
UCF students and faculty sounded off on the decision.
“To see that UCFPD was there, I was so disappointed,” said Kristen Detz, a UCF student and activist. “I just want to thank you, Chief Metzger, for taking the steps, replying so quickly, and actually making a change.”
“I think that creates tension, that evokes tension, when you have UCF Police facing-off against UCF students or students in general,” said Prof. Fon Gordon, Phd., Asst. Professor of Africana Studies. “I would assume that the UCF Police Department wants to do is maintain not only a good relationship with other police departments in Central Florida but certainly they want to maintain a trusting relationship with the student demographic.”
Chief Metzger said it was important to support the school community, but his officers would go back to support their law enforcement colleagues if they were called to duty.
Stay with FOX 35 Orlando for continuing coverage on the George Floyd protests across the nation.