Tampa, Florida -- Tampa's mayor and police chief gave us a first-hand look today at security preparations for the 2012 Republican National Convention.
The City of Tampa hosted a "citizens' academy" Thursday morning. Seventy civic and business leaders loaded up in buses and headed to a Tampa Police training facility near Ybor City.
Upon arrival, officers and deputies showed off their stuff.
We got demonstrations of what's in the city's bag of tricks: K-9 units, bike teams assembled for the convention, the mounted patrol unit, and the regional bomb squad.
We also saw what's called the "crowd management team" -- the officers in protective riot gear who deal with out-of-hand crowds.
Police cadets played the role of angry protesters, trying to rile up the officers who've each gotten hours of training in protest law, proper procedures, and patience.
The Tampa Police Department also showed the khaki uniforms all local and out-of-town law enforcement officers will be wearing as they safeguard the Tampa Bay area.
Past major events like this in other cities have drawn anarchists to the area. Their protests sometimes turn violent, with crowds smashing buildings and sometimes rushing toward police.
Many, many more folks are planning protests that are peaceful.
One group called the Coalition to March on the RNC met with reporters Wednesday and declared their intentions to have around five thousand people march without confrontation through downtown Tampa on August 27th.
Wednesday night at a town hall meeting about the convention, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn urged folks to be patient. He said the 2012 GOP Convention is the largest business-building, international exposure event in the city's history -- and it'll be worth the headaches.
There will be one more town hall meeting with Mayor Buckhorn and Tampa Police.
It's Thursday night at the Kate Jackson Community Center on Rome Avenue in the Hyde Park section of South Tampa. It starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m. There will people there who can answer questions you have about your home or your specific commute and the RNC.
We'll be getting details about security that we likely have not heard before during the citizens' academy. We'll tell you about what we learn in a live report on 10 News at Noon and also here at wtsp.com.
Click here for maps of City of Tampa 2012 RNC Road Closures and GOP Convention Security Zones.
Grayson Kamm, 10 News