Law enforcement agencies from South Florida traveled to Tampa Thursday to assist police there with crowd control during next week's Republication National Convention.
The Broward Sheriff's Office sent 100 deputies from all of its districts and Port Everglades, the courts and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport who have trained as part of the agency's field force.
"Decades ago, when there was rioting, cops didn't really have training or experience to deal with them effectively," Broward Sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal said. "Cops would get cut off or separated in the melee. Members of the Field Force train periodically as a big team, so they understand their roles and the proper control techniques to be able to deal with crowds and urban emergencies."
The Tampa Bay Host Committee website says it's expecting 50,000 people, including GOP delegates, tourists and up to 15,000 journalists for the Aug. 27 -- 30 convention.
Also heading north to help keep the peace: 79 deputies with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office; West Palm Beach Police; Monroe County Sheriff's Office; Key West Police; Orange County Sheriff's Office and the Orlando Police, said Officer Irene Thomas of the Tampa Police. They're among 53 agencies confirmed as of Aug. 13.
"Other cities who hosted an event this large required about 3,500-4,000 officers to secure the event," Thomas said by email. "We will have a comparable number of officers and deputies on hand, to ensure we have a safe RNC. We are absolutely preparing for various types of demonstrations or for anyone who plans to attend with the sole intention of causing disruption to the event."
Lawbreakers will be dealt with quickly, Thomas said, so that others may demonstrate peacefully.
In addition to the Tampa Bay Times Forum convention site, there are 75 event venues and booked each night, 15,000 hotel rooms, the host committee said.
Visiting and working law enforcement will get "welcome bags" from Tampa P.D. filled with lip balm, sun screen, candy bars, discount coupons for local activities and food vendors, disposable water bags, magazines and 5 hour energy drinks, Thomas said.
A $50 million U.S. Department of Justice grant will cover law enforcement costs, she said.
One prominent cop not going: Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti though he met the deputies who gathered at the Weston District before they headed for Alligator Alley.
Being used for the first time: The regional domestic security task force's mobile joint information trailer for police spokespersons that the agency manages. It will be hauled north by a truck borrowed from Coral Springs Police.
Lest the region's bad boys and girls think it's party time next week, with so many BSO personnel out of town, Leljedal said the agency has more than 1,500 law enforcement deputies.
"We've been planning this for several months, so there won't be any noticeable change in staffing or impact on patrols," Leljedal said.
And if Tropical Storm Isaac grows into a hurricane and batters Tampa?
"They'll need us more than ever," Lejedal said.
And if the storm strikes the east coast and the deputies are needed here, he said they'll be recalled home.
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