UT police offer extra help in Florida for Vols game after Irma

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – University of Tennessee police will be heading to Gainesville, Florida, this weekend to offer some extra help during the Vols-Gators football game.

With all the devastation left behind in Florida after Hurricane Irma, first responders there are staying busy.

There are 54 police officers that patrol the University of Tennessee, but this weekend two dozen of them are heading south.

“I reached out to the University of Florida and obviously I offered any assistance we could provide with them. As you can imagine they were excited to hear from us,” UTPD Chief Troy Lane said.

Previous story: SEC: Tennessee game against Florida will be held in Gainesville

Lane knew they might need some help after Gainesville took a hit by Hurricane Irma, and the SEC announced yesterday the rivalry game between the Vols and Gators will still be played at The Swamp.

“Cell phone service is intermittent at best, still operating off a lot of generators and so forth so they are still very much in recovery phase even in Gainesville, Florida,” Lane said.

Most of the UTPD officers volunteered to go, and 24 of them will be making the trip.

They are paying for it out of pocket. The university plans to reimburse them.

Lane ensured there will still be plenty of officers here in Knoxville this weekend.

“A lot of folks stepped up and in fact we had to turn some of them away and tell them we needed them here at home,” he said. “We’ll probably confine ourselves to mostly our fans, our band, our sideline, maybe help out a little bit with the gates.”

It was a friendly offer extended among a strong football rivalry.

“The joke was welcoming people to Rocky Top when they come to the game this weekend, don’t know if that will actually happen but at the end of the day we want to ensure people’s safety,” Lane said.

Lane also said Gainesville is expecting some flooding this week which could cause some travel issues along Interstate 75. They are encouraging people to check their travel routes before they head down.

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