Law enforcement brass from around the country are in Tampa this weekend, not to take part in the Gasparilla celebrations, but to observe how Tampa police handle the massive crowds, keep the peace and guard against terrorist attacks.
Fresh from the arousing success of keeping a lid on violent protests at the Republican National Convention in August 2012, Tampa police have established a reputation on how to best handle large influxes of people. The Gasparilla festival and parade could bring as many as a half-million people to South Tampa and downtown Saturday.
So, 17 police chiefs and commanders have come to Tampa to watch police during the festivities.
On Friday, the visitors were scheduled to ride along with Tampa police commanders, and visit the parade route and command center to learn about various crime-fighting strategies and security.
The visitors are from as far away as Los Angeles County, Dallas, Birmingham, Ala., and Bloomington, Ind.
After the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April, Tampa police have taken extra precautions this year, including explosives-sniffing dogs checking each parade float. Extra officers will be posted in elevated observation booths and video cameras will be atop poles along the parade route.