TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Four years ago Tampa was ground zero for the Republican National Convention. So as the city of Cleveland prepared for the historic event, they turned to Tampa.
“They solicited us for our assistance and we tried to provide that assistance to them,” said Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward.
“The sentiment around the nation is a little bit different right now so it’s best for them to be prepared for the unforeseen. I think ramping up their security and making sure they have assets in place is going to be the key to their success,” said Chief Ward.
His biggest advice: “I think using their bicycle officers they have a good opportunity to interact with the community in a non-confrontational manner in the same token they can provide those resources that direct the crowd in a way that they want them to do,” said Ward.
“Tampa set the standard in 2012 for how these events should be run and the fact that we had only two arrests and zero property damage, tells you how well that convention was executed. I think they took our blue print, they took our after action report and hopefully made it theirs,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
“It’s a very difficult time and that’s one of the things you have to consider is the safety…not only of the community but of law enforcement officers as well,” added Ward.
“Now the mood in the country is a little bit different this year than it was in 2012. I mean we had the occupiers, we had anarchist and we had the black block and we had anonymous but we didn’t have a country that was in turmoil We didn’t have Black Lives Matter. You know Mr. Trump tends to incite the hatred in groups, the white supremacist so it could potentially be a very toxic environment:. But if they trained half as hard as we did, it will allow them to survive the next four days without incident,” added Buckhorn.
Cleveland Police brought in military equipment and out of town police officers who were sworn in to help with crowd controls. It’s estimated more than 50,000 people will be in Cleveland for the convention.
Cleveland Police even traveled to Tampa for face time. “We invited chiefs from all over the country about 3 of them to come down just to see how we conduct our operations. We got a lot of positive feedback,” said Ward.
Also, Florida Highway Patrol sent 100 sworn members of the patrol and 34 administrative staff members to the RNC. AT least 14 other states are sending in staff to help with the RNC Security detail.