Transparency between police and the community they serve has always been paramount to ensure mutual trust and respect. The recent national response to some cases of police brutality and the outcry for criminal-justice reform reinforces that need for transparency.

Following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, the UCF Police Department brainstormed ways it could better connect with the UCF community.

This resulted in a transparency website, which aims to help the public understand who officers are, the department’s policies and why they exist, and how UCF police officers train and prepare for emergency situations.

The site also includes action items created by UCFPD leadership, including more diversity training, the reimplementation of the Chief’s Advisory Council and a review of existing policies, among others.

“Our sworn and civilian staff hold themselves to the highest standards, and we will continue to always do the right thing.” — UCF Police Chief Carl Metzger ’03MS

“The UCF Police Department has worked tirelessly to build trust between law enforcement and the community we serve,” says UCF Police Chief Carl Metzger ’03MS. “Our sworn and civilian staff hold themselves to the highest standards, and we will continue to always do the right thing.”

“Doing the Right Thing” has been a mantra of Metzger’s since he became chief in 2018. He believes in treating everyone with respect and maintaining professionalism, while keeping the community safe and protecting everyone’s constitutional rights.

Metzger and Deputy Chief of Police David Zambri ’92 ’95MPA have worked hard to ensure UCFPD officers don’t make the same mistakes as some other agencies across the nation.

“At UCFPD, we’re constantly learning and finding ways to make ourselves better,” says Zambri. “By learning from others, we can prevent senseless tragedies other departments and communities have experienced.  This also allows us to implement successful strategies, techniques, or programs for our community that have shown promise in other places.”

Taking Action

Since May, UCFPD has revised policies, including a more specific duty to intervene policy, and implemented #8CantWait recommendations for reducing police use of force as part of a renewed commitment to de-escalation.

Since 2015, the UCF Police Department has been incorporating many of the 21st Century Policing task force’s recommendations and action items, a Department of Justice initiative which provides guidance for how a department can strengthen trust within their communities while also lowering crime.

“UCFPD has not only implemented many best practices over time, but we’re often leading the charge on how to make ourselves, and policing in general, better,” said Zambri. “We have always been committed to listening to what our community expects and responded accordingly. It’s about listening to the community and taking action.”

After a community member recently asked if officers’ body-worn cameras could be improved, UCFPD extended the buffering time from 30 to 60 seconds, ensuring more transparency of a situation before an officer ever turns on their camera.

While officers have undergone implicit bias training since 2016, UCFPD has added more diversity training and opportunities for officers to learn about other cultures that exist at UCF.

All sworn and civilian UCFPD employees were required to complete Harvard’s Project Implicit bias test and select modules within the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture’s newly launched “Talking About Race” online portal.

Additionally, several officers recently visited the Wells’Built Museum of African American History and Culture in Orlando’s historic Parramore district to gain a better understanding about local Black history.

UCFPD has also made a long-term commitment to send officers each year to Washington, D.C., to experience the National Museum of African American History and Culture as pandemic and budget restrictions allow.

“We know that our students come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, and we’re dedicated to respecting those differences while also keeping our campus safe and secure,” says Zambri. “We promise to always do the right thing by our community and continue to be open and as transparent as possible.”

Below, you can watch a recent open and honest virtual conversation with officers from UCFPD and members of the community they serve.