UTPD responds to DUI leniency allegations

Officer caught on camera during block party saying they've been lenient on DUI's; UTPD responds

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In bodycam video from that night, you can hear an officer admitting to being lenient to the students in the past and telling them that's come to an end. In bodycam video from that night, you can hear an officer admitting to being lenient to the students in the past and telling them that's come to an end.
“I don't think you’re going to have an officer who has allowed a DUI that is an extremely serious offense,” said Lt. Mike Richardson. “I don't think you’re going to have an officer who has allowed a DUI that is an extremely serious offense,” said Lt. Mike Richardson.
By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The University of Tennessee Police Department responded Thursday to some potentially unsettling comments captured by a bodycam as officers were responding to last weekend's huge block party.

Previous story: Sheriff's office fires deputy in Ft. Sanders party incident

“The parking, DUI’s, public intoxication, open containers, all those things we've let fly for the last year, because we've been cool are now going to be coming down 100 percent, addressed every night for the rest of the year,” said a law enforcement officer.

6 News wanted to know if UT police have been looking the other way on violations, even DUIs, in the Fort Sanders neighborhood.

Eight UT police officers responded to the scene Saturday to try and break up a crowd of around 800 people gathered at Fort Sanders. UTPD had to call in the Knoxville Police Department and the Knox County Sheriff's Office for back up.

Previous story: UTPD releases bodycam video from Fort Sanders block party

In bodycam video from that night, you can hear an officer admitting to being lenient to the students in the past and telling them that's come to an end.

“The parking, DUI’s, public intoxication, open containers, all those things we've let fly for the last year, because we've been cool are now going to be coming down 100 percent, addressed every night for the rest of the year,” said an officer.

After viewing the video, 6 News followed up with UT police Lt. Mike Richardson. We asked if officers are overlooking DUIs.

“I don't think you’re going to have an officer who has allowed a DUI that is an extremely serious offense,” said Lt. Richardson.

We asked why someone in law enforcement would make the statement.

“I believe what you have there is a level of frustration. I think what some people tend to forget is this line of work as an officer beyond the uniform we are all human. We all have emotion,” said Lt. Richardson.

Richardson said while the video is from a body camera on a UT police officer, the audio could have come from any other law enforcement official who responded to the scene and was standing nearby.

In the bodycam video an officer goes on to say after dealing with the party, officers will have to crack down.

“So I wouldn't park your [expletive] car anywhere that's illegal or otherwise or DUI's or PI's or anything like that because all 9 million laws that exist in the city will be enforced heavily from here on out and I'm telling ya’ll that's the truth,” said an officer.

“I think that's what the officer is saying we try to work with you. We want to resolve this peacefully. We've shown that throughout the year, so work with us,” said Lt. Richardson.

6 News asked if officers may be ignoring other violations of the law, such as a person having an open container or parking illegally.

“If you're looking at a car parked on a yellow curb or something like that sometimes maybe a bigger situation arises where that may have to be overlooked to deal with another issue larger,” said Lt. Richardson.

Lt. Richardson says the command staff has discussed the video but recognizes there was a level frustration. He says no disciplinary action will be taken and that the officers are professional.

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