TAMPA - In the last Republican convention, the political unrest played out in the streets of St. Paul. But downtown Tampa is surrounded on three sides by water, which makes maritime security a priority.
On Tuesday, four agencies, including Florida Fish and Wildlife displayed the boats they'll be manning 24/7 during the week of the convention that begins August 27th- from an inflatable Zodiac to an 87 foot Coast Guard cutter.
Tampa Police showed off their state of the art cruiser that has an on-board air system that can fill dive tanks and provide oxygen for police divers suited up on board.
With three outboard motors, the Hillsborough Sheriff's 40 footer can run at highway speeds. And it's armed to the teeth.
"The weaponry is an enhanced battle rifle, Springfield 308 caliber, fully automatic machine guns" explained Hillsborough Sheriff's Deputy Paul Shute.
The Sheriff's boat has cameras that can scan the water and the land in 3-D. With heat sensitive imaging, there's no place to hide day or night.
"They could just be trying to draw attention to themselves" said Tampa Police Officer James Reiser. "They could actually be trying to disrupt the convention or hurt some of the people attending the convention."
The U.S. Coast Guard is the lead agency with final say on waterside security. And though recreational boat traffic will be allowed on the Hillsborough River and Seddon Channel during RNC off-hours, the Coast Guard could take some of the fun out of it.
"If you want to go north or south on the Hillsborough River you will be subject to an extensive search- that's the boat itself and the people" said Coast Guard spokeswoman, Judy Silverstein.
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