Beefed up security for Tampa on New Year’s Eve

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Terror threats in Brussels forced the cancellation of New Year’s celebrations.  In New York, 6,000 police officers will patrol Times Square.  In Tampa, a fireworks show in Channelside and parade in Ybor City will draw thousands.  Law enforcement knows of no threat.

“We don’t have anything specific that we’re looking at,” said Tampa Police Department spokesperson Steve Hegarty.

“But these are major events tonight, whenever you put that many people together you need to be on our highest alert.”  Police will be on bikes, in cars, bomb sniffing dogs will sweep before and during festivities.

“There’s a lot of things you won’t see that go into our planning as well,” Hegarty added.

On the water, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office marine unit will keep wandering boats away from cruise ships and the Homeland Security restricted areas.  During a brief cruise of the port this afternoon, the marine unit pulled over one boat that wandered into a restricted area near a cruise ship and waved off two others approaching it.

“We’ll look for anything.  We’ll look for boaters that don’t have the proper equipment, intoxicated boaters,” Master Deputy David Leto said.

With recent acts of terrorism fresh on everyone’s mind, tonight the marine unit will look for any threats to people on water or land.

“We do have radiation detection systems,” Deputy Leto added  “We’ll be looking for anything that stands out, anything different, anybody who wants to be in a special position.”  According to Deputy Leto, radiation detection systems will also be deployed on land.

What with Tampa Bay Lightning and Buccaneer games, this area is no stranger to large crowds, major events and beefed up security.

“We have plans to deal with those crowds and I think that people would agree that they see that there is security, but it’s not so inconvenient that it’s a problem.  And that’s what we hope to have happen tonight, we want people to have fun,” Hegarty stated.

Still, law enforcement urges people to be alert and if you see something, say something.

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