Emma Spaulding Named Gainesville Police Officer of the Year

Emma Spaulding Named Gainesville Police Officer of the Year

On February 13th, 2024, Mayor Harvey Ward announced the Officer of the Year at the Gainesville State of the City address. Emma Spaulding was named Gainesville Police Department (GPD) officer of the year, despite a previous internal investigation regarding her involvement in an abuse of power in which a GPD officer sexually assaulted three employees at Coconut Cabaret as two other officers watched. 

On August 13, 2022, Officer Emma Spaulding, Officer Tommy Alvin, and Corporal Brooke Shutterly went to the Gentlemen's Club Coconut Cabaret under the jurisdiction of Sergeant Aaron Wagle. Spaulding and the other officers entered the club without the owners' permission.

Shutterly approached one of the dancers and told her that her underwear needed to be measured. She walked her into the changing room and sexually assaulted her and two other dancers. Officer Spaulding was one of the officers that watched.  

The management, staff, and entertainers at Coconut Cabaret alleged that the assault was done as retaliation, in part for previous encounters between Spaulding and the management when she was called out to the club regarding noise complaints.   

During the investigation, Shutterly claimed that Spaulding informed her she saw a dancer not wearing any bottoms while the door swung open during an encounter two weeks prior with Coconut Cabret Co-owner James Rauch. Spaulding made the same claim, saying Shutterly told her she saw a dancer wearing no bottoms. This claim caught staff and entertainers off guard, as Coconut Cabaret has a no-nudity and no-touching policy. 

Spaulding claimed the purpose of the measurement was to educate and inform, however, she took no copies of the city ordinance on nudity with her. She also claimed she was there to learn about city ordinances from Shutterly; the internal investigation found Shutterly had not acted as a mentor to Spaulding before. 

Despite this, Spaulding received applause after it was announced she was Officer of the Year. Ward did not announce why she had been chosen for the title. Co-owner of Coconut Cabaret, Anthony Grezlik, offered insight as to why Spaulding may have been chosen for the accolade.


“Bad actors reward bad actors. Officer Spaulding, GPD’s choice for their best officer on staff, was awarded Officer of the Year. Accomplishments in 2022 include a low understanding of the law, sustained sexual assault on citizens while on duty, and observed alcoholism.” Grezlik said, calling Spaulding “Munegin’s best customer,” accusing her of being drunk in public on frequent occasions.

Grezlik went on to call out Spaulding for violating the oath taken by police officers. 

“Not to mention breaking the oath she took and the law enforcement ethics policy that all law enforcement have to bind to... This is your new GPD officer of the year. Maybe she did better in 23’."

All the officers involved were given written warnings, except Spaulding. Spaulding did not receive any form of warning or punishment regarding her involvement. The allegation that the measurement was being conducted as retaliation for her previous interactions with management was unfounded, and she was permitted to continue employment without any acknowledgment to her record. 

At 3:47 pm GPD made a Facebook post acknowledging Spaulding's award, and offered her a round of applause. They did not state any specific actions by Spaulding in 2023 to warrant her title of Officer of the Year. GPD said Spaulding has made "exceptional contributions" to Gainesville's safety, calling her an individual who "goes above and beyond everyday."

Jack Walden

Jack Walden

Jack Walden is the creator of Gnvinfo and a 2nd year journalism major at Santa Fe College. From general information, to exposing falsehoods and corruption, Jack seeks to deliver the truth.
Gainesville, FL