Tampa officer making a difference, reassigned

Posted at 5:17 PM, Jan 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-14 17:17:48-05

A Tampa officer is making a difference and keeping kids off the street in West Tampa, but he's getting reassigned.

For three years, Officer Denis Lopez has been working at The Police Athletic League. Thursday is his last day. He’s moving to patrol.

Now, there are almost 100 parents protesting the decision.  

“He's been here from eight in the morning until two in the morning, and comes back the next morning at 8 o'clock. His wife volunteers at the snack bar,” said parent David Argilagos, “He's a good mentor, in my opinion, and what I’ve seen. All the bad kids get put to his class, because he knows how to manage them... He fights for them.”

So parents are fighting for him. They started a petition calling on the chief to reverse the decision.

“I've collected 93 names," said Argilagos, “(He) wants to stay but can’t comment with being active duty patrol.”

We asked police about the reason behind the move.

“This is the time of year at Tampa Police where a lot of reassignments are going on,” said spokesperson Steve Hagerty.

And we asked again.

I've asked; there is no specific reason. I've asked,” Hagerty said.

The department did get the petition saying Lopez will be patrolling the area by the Athletic League. So, if he wants, he can still volunteer with the kids on his own time.

Parents don’t plan on letting this go.

“I'm pleading to Chief Ward. He's a product of P.A.L. I said, 'Hey, can you look into this?' Because this is a big disservice they are doing to our kids,” said Argilagos.