Remember how prior to the Republican National Convention, some activists claimed local law enforcement officials were wasting federal security funds on technological "toys" that would do the public little good?
Those complaints seemed less than persuasive when the Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office executed a flawless security plan for the convention. Decisions on all aspects of safety, including what uniforms law enforcement used, where monitoring cameras were placed, and when bicycle patrols were deployed, reflected thoughtful attention to detail. The results were a remarkably trouble-free convention.
The complaints about police "toys" seem even more frivolous now as the city continues to utilize what Mayor Bob Buckhorn calls "legacy purchases" made for the RNC.
This weekend, as the Tribune's Ray Reyes reports, the bicycles, mobile surveillance cameras, stand-up electric vehicle and four-wheeled utility vehicles acquired for the RNC are being deployed at malls and department stores to curtail car thefts, burglaries, shoplifting and other crimes common during the Christmas season.
The equipment is expected to dramatically cut down on response time. Moreover, the strong police presence in shopping areas should discourage would-be thieves.
Anyone who saw how efficiently officers used bicycles during the convention to respond to complaints and keep protesters under control will appreciate having bicycle patrols at the malls.
Officers also will be able to watch the surveillance cameras' feeds on IPads and respond immediately to any crimes.
Some complain the surveillance cameras violate the public's privacy.
This is nonsense, considering one can be taped either by business cameras or personal cell phones in virtually any public venue.
The public would be ill-served if police are denied the ability to use the monitoring cameras to detect crimes or identify criminals in public areas.
The cameras' value was underscored early this month when a closed-circuit monitoring camera helped Tampa police quickly capture a man accused of attacking a woman in a downtown parking garage.
Think about it. There is no presumption of privacy in a city parking garage — particularly if you are assaulting someone.
Citizens are fortunate that the RNC left local law enforcement with such useful crime-fighting tools and that local officers now are finding additional ways to put them to good use.