TAMPA - Tampa police Chief Jane Castor says the city is more than ready to serve and protect during the Republican National Convention.
"Well we've been preparing for a year and a half, said Chief Castor. "A great part of our success is going to be predicated on the relationships we have in law enforcement. Everybody has come together to prepare for this and to ensure that it is a safe and secure event and that it reflects very positively on the Tampa Bay area."
In front of a packed house of community members and business leaders Thursday, Chief Castor and her team, as well as other law enforcement agencies, showcased what they have been working on for more than 18 months. They gave insight into the specific procedures they have in place to proactively protect the area in and around the event zone, as well as their plan of action if things get out of control.
"We don't anticipate that things will get out of hand. Again, it's our sense of urgency. Identifying those individuals that are bent on disruption and destruction and getting them out of the crowd immediately," explained Chief Castor.
She also noted there will be more than 200 police officers on bicycles, providing maximum mobility through downtown, as many streets and major thoroughfares will be closed as convention-goers make their way to Tampa Bay Times Forum. In addition to more bicycles, motorcycles, SWAT team vehicles, and the like, law enforcement will have man's best friend along for the ride.
"They're just an extra set of eyes and ears," says Sgt. Jerry Patrick with the Tampa Police canine unit. "We are going to be in and around the venue and anywhere where there is a special security risk, we are going to be there to make sure that everyone stays safe and enjoys themselves."
Sgt. Patrick says with an event of this magnitude, the dogs are imperative for not only explosive and narcotics detection, but also just to be yet another way for the officers to protect themselves in case the crowds get unruly.
While law enforcement can't predict exactly what will happen, they say with the presence of 3,500 to 4,000 officials in the downtown area, in addition to the equipment they are being provided with, they will be prepared for whatever may happen as the world watches Tampa in less than a couple weeks.
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