9 Investigates

‘Don’t forget us, protect us’: Orlando police officers sound off in survey about their chief, department

ORLANDO, Fla. — Channel 9 has obtained the scathing results of a survey of Orlando police officers about their chief, Orlando Rolon, and the department.

The results show that nearly 75% of officers surveyed indicate they believe morale in the department is low or very low.

According to the survey, which included responses from around 350 officers, some officers also indicated they've stopped some of their crime fighting efforts.

READ: ‘We have to do a better job telling our story’: Orlando police chief talks use of force, police unions and proposed policy changes

Another question shows more than 80% of officers who responded don't feel the department would stand behind them in a use of force incident that was within policy, but drew criticism from the public.

The results of the survey come on the heels of local and nationwide protests in the George Floyd killing in Minnesota and rising hostility toward officers.

“It’s by far most of the officers are feeling this way,” said law enforcement expert Chuck Drago. “And it’s probably due to certain things that have occurred in Orlando specifically and some of it is due to the overall climate across the country as well.”

READ: Orlando police chief reminds officers that deadly force is only to be used as a last resort

Drago, a former police chief, said a police chief's job is to balance the needs of the community and the needs of officers.

He said the survey indicates that balance is not present.

In the open comments section of the survey, many comments targeted Rolon and specifically accused him of pandering to the public.

"You were once one of us. Don't forget us, protect us," one officer wrote.

"Why are you taking a knee with protestors, but you refuse to stand with your cops?" another said in reference to a photo posted on social media in downtown Orlando of Rolon and Orange County Sehriff John Mina both kneeling with protesters.

READ: Union takes issue with Orange County Sheriff’s Office change to use-of-force policy

In a statement the chief said he hasn't had the chance to review the entire survey.

“While I value highly any feedback from the members of the agency, I have an obligation and responsibility to balance the needs and desires of the officers under my leadership with those of the citizens we’re sworn to protect and serve,” he said in a statement.

Rolon also said he's committed to exploring ideas for change and he'd be interested to learn what a citizens' survey would reveal about the department's services and methods.

Channel 9 reached out to the Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s office for reaction and were told the mayor has not received a copy of the survey.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.