Retired Ormond Beach police officer Vincent Champion recently wanted to visit Universal Studios’ Orlando theme park with his girlfriend. The two of them thought they were going to have a great time. Well, not so much. You see, security refused entrance to Champion because he had the audacity to wear a shirt that said “retired police officer.”
It happened on November 1. Champion and his girlfriend, Holly Bickel, were headed to the theme park where they intended to meet up with other couples for Halloween Horror Nights. “I walk up to the line wearing a retired law enforcement officer shirt,” he explained to Blue Lives Matter afterward. “I start emptying out all my pockets and as I’m about to walk through, the girl behind the security counter says ‘do you have another shirt?'”
We would have thought that the employees just made an outrageous mistake, then the company responded.
Obviously, the former police officer was rather surprised by the question. “I told her, ‘no ma’am I do not,’ and explained I was in town from Daytona. And she says you can’t come in here with anything that says ‘police officer’ on it.”
Behind the couple, a bunch of other couples were getting angry with security — and for good reason, of course. In the end, another visitor gave Champion a t-shirt to wear. He put it on and thought he could finally enter the theme park.
But no. The security guard wasn’t done with him just yet. She told him that he was “going to have to take that other shirt back to the car.” However, they had just left their car with the valet. Getting it back was going to be rather difficult. So, Champion said, he’d just carry the “retired police officer” shirt with him, or tie it around his waist.
Not good enough for madam security guard. “No, you have to put it in your car,” she told Champion.
Finally, the retired police officer had had enough. He put his other shirt back on and asked for a supervisor. “So the security supervisor comes down and he explains ‘we have a policy that you can’t wear any police gear,’ and I asked him to show me the policy.”
Of course, they didn’t have any such official policy. So that’s when the supervisor suddenly decided that the rule was in place to make sure that other park patrons wouldn’t confuse him for an active duty police officer or a security guard.
Champion didn’t give up, however. After almost an hour of debating the matter, the supervisor finally relented and gave Champion permission to enter the theme park. “Ultimately, I was allowed in. I think it was because I complained enough and other patrons were yelling at him, he said it would be fine. He looked at my shirt and said ‘well, that doesn’t really look like a badge, so you’re okay,'” Champion explains.
Champion is done with Universal Studios. “I will never return to Universal and I know of two other police families who have already canceled their season passes to that park,” he says. He is also spreading his story among other police officers (retired and active) to make sure they too know how police-unfriendly the theme park is.