Gasparilla ‘situation room’ keeps eyes everywhere to monitor safety threats

TAMPA, Fla.  (WFLA) – Security was tight as the pirates and crowds took the seas and streets on Saturday.

Tampa Police and more than a dozen agencies were keeping things safe, including being present at a hub, where they were able to have their eyes everywhere.

The Gasparilla Joint Operations Center is also known as the “situation room.”  It’s where law enforcement are ready to handle anything and everything that comes their way.

The agencies includes Tampa Police, Tampa Fire and Rescue, FDLE, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the US Coast Guard, and city code enforcement.

The “situation room” is full of large screen monitors, camera views, and computers that allow FBI agents, police officers, and deputies to call up live images from cameras along the parade route, and other places in the city, to make sure they know what’s going on.  Crews can then respond to any traffic or safety issues.

All of this coincides with a tour by a group of 30 law enforcement officials from around the nation.  They’re in Tampa to see how officials work together on a large-scale event like this one.

Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward says recent terror attacks have helped them be more pro-active, rather than reactive.

“There’s always problems if you don’t take those lessons learned and see how you can improve and implement those changes,” Chief Ward told News Channel 8.

“This is one of the largest marine parades in the country,” said Ensign Eric Riley of the US Coast Guard.  “It’s just a small strip of water, however, there’s so many boaters on scene that want to be a part of it and be where the action is.”

This isn’t the first year Tampa Police have had the situation room up and running monitoring all Gasparilla festivities, and it certainly won’t be the last.

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