Florida football players begin participating in ride-alongs with Gainesville Police
In an effort to stem the tide of arrests among Florida football players, the University Athletic Association and the Gainesville Police Department have facilitated ride-alongs for football players and GPD officers.
In recent weeks, the Gators have become the center of national attention about whether Florida is becoming a renegade program.
A group of Gator players participated in their first ride-along with GPD officers this past Thursday night. Although GPD generally allows any citizen to participate in a ride-along, the decision to have Gator football players get involved was made after recent conversations between UF coach Urban Meyer and law enforcement officers following the arrest of sophomore cornerback Janoris Jenkins on May 30. Jenkins was the 24th reported arrest since Meyer took over in 2005.
"Our goal is behavioral change, we want you to do things a certain way,’’ said GPD public information officer Lt. Keith Kameg. “And what is the best way to get out how you do business? Peer to peer. They get to see what we do, because law enforcement has a long history of not explaining ourselves very well. And people need to understand why we arrest if there’s a fight. Why do we break it up? Why do we arrest people for underage drinking? There’s a method to what we do and it is another vehicle to get out policing and what we do.’’
Kameg said the primary goal is for the players to only understand what law enforcement is up against, and also learn what pitfalls players should avoid when they are out socially.
"It shows them there’s other issues going (on) around you that can affect you,'' Kameg said. "You don’t want to get caught up in things. I thought it was a great start (Thursday night). We’ve had a great relationship with UAA.
Unfortunately,a lot of people are keying in on the football team right now, but speaking as law enforcement, they’ve done everything they can to work with us to try and make things better. . . . But we want to be very clear. We do not target, nor do we give special treatment to athletes. A lot of students ride with us. We try to foster a relationship because it's in our best interest as law enforcement to work with people, not against people.''