TAMPA - Some of the most powerful people in the country were at the RNC this week. It was a prime target for terrorists, yet no attack materialized.
The protests, as well, were much smaller and more peaceful than in the past. At the 2008 RNC, there were approximately 800 arrests, according to the Tampa Police Department. There were 1,600 in 2004. But at the 2012 RNC in Tampa, there were just two.
The FBI believes the threat of Hurricane Isaac hitting Tampa scared away many potential protesters and threats.
“There were a number of groups that we had intelligence or information indicating they were going to come down this way, but the weather or the threat of a hurricane stopped a lot of those groups from coming,” said FBI Special Agent Steven Ibison.
I-Team Investigator Michael George asked Tampa’s police chief, Jane Castor, if there were any credible threats to this year’s convention.
“Yes, we did receive information indicating that there were going to be slowdowns on the bridges. That was going to be a tactic that was attempted,” Chief Castor said.
As the I-Team reported last week, the FBI put out a bulletin warning that anarchists discussed shutting down Tampa’s bridges during the convention. A shut down would have put delegates in danger and put the area in gridlock the area. But it never happened. Part of the reason may have been the visibility of the 3,500 to 4,000 law enforcement officers in the area.
Protest groups’ Twitter accounts posted that police outnumbered protesters all week.
“We’re getting feedback that obviously this was a deterrent for some of those folks that did want to disrupt the RNC,” Ibison said.
Chief Castor was asked whether the number of officers was “overkill,” considering the small number of protesters. She said she believed the show of force by law enforcement is the very reason the Tampa convention became one of the most peaceful conventions in history.
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Last week, the I-Team was there when 99-year-old Willi Berchau was released from Florida's guardianship program after a three year court battle.