TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Police Benevolent Association is accusing Super Bowl organizers of prioritizing profits over the health and safety of officers.
In a letter sent this week to its more than 1,000 active and retired members, the police union blamed the NFL and Host Committee for adding events and parties after the Tampa Bay Bucs advanced to the big game.
It reads in part, “Quite frankly, it is irresponsible and it alludes to putting dollars over officer lives and safety.”
The letter goes on to say, “To date, we are aware of almost 90 unofficial Super Bowl events in a five day period. Many of those have national figures, celebrities, and entertainers being advertised as being in attendance to help draw a crowd. That doesn’t even include the official events scattered over six parks along the riverwalk that all need to be secured inside the Event Zone. Additionally, we still have to conduct the day-to-day operations of keeping Tampa secure.”
You can read the full letter below.
Danny Alvarez, with the Tampa Police Benevolent Association, said the coronavirus forced organizers to postpone this year’s Gasparilla. He also pointed to City of Tampa leaders asking families to not gather over the holidays yet the welcome mat has been rolled out for visitors across the country leading up to Super Bowl festivities.
“We still stand with the community, and we still love the Bucs and we still want it to go on but we are just concerned and we got to air those concerns as part of officer safety and public safety.”
The Host Committee sent the following statement in response:
“The NFL and Host Committee have a limited number of in-person sanctioned events remaining with the majority of previously planned events either canceling or moving to a virtual format. We have not added any events recently. Any event that may have been added recently is not sanctioned by either the NFL or the Host Committee. We appreciate the continued collaboration of all the local law enforcement agencies that are involved.”
Tampa’s Police Chief, Brian Dugan, added:
"The NFL and Super Bowl Host Committee have a limited number of sanctioned events. They have nothing to do with the additional events restaurants and bars owners have planned. Having the Bucs in the Super Bowl in Tampa has created a unique dynamic. Our officers have been supplied with the proper equipment and are required to wear it on assignment. It’s disappointing that the PBA leadership has waited until two days before the event to express their concerns. I’m proud of the hard work and dedication of our cops who rise to the occasion and perform exemplary under difficult circumstances."