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Courts / Law

Tampa Police Chief Dugan Defends Officers' Actions During Protest Arrests

Brian Dugan at the podium
CITY OF TAMPA/FACEBOOK
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan defended his officers' actions during protests that have turned violent.

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan defended his agency’s actions during this week’s protests against the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

During a news conference today with Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, Dugan said protesters and police are working together to ensure the gatherings remain peaceful.

Police made 68 arrests on Tuesday, the first night after Tampa lifted a two-day curfew.

Dugan said the department is trying to strike a balance between allowing crowds to gather with the safety of the protesters and officers.

“We’re doing our best to give them the freedom, but we have to find that balance of are we going to let them take over our town or not,” Dugan said.

Dugan answered questions about the tactics Tampa police are using to disperse unruly protesters by saying officers are not using tear gas or rubber bullets, and are using a type of pepper spray that quickly dissipates.

He also urged protesters who are gathering peacefully to “point out the bad actors” and help to ensure the protests don’t turn violent.

“These peaceful protesters turn very quickly, hijacking a peaceful march and ruining it for everybody else,” Dugan said.

“We need people to take back the protest and point out the one who are not there to peacefully protest,” Dugan said. “If you see someone who has weapons on them – mortars, bullets, guns – we need to know about it. We need to start pointing all these things out to law enforcement so we can take action.”

Dugan also said he and St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway will be part of a statewide committee of chiefs who review policies and implement change on how officers police their communities.