Gasparilla pirates meet with stepped up security at Children's Parade

9:59 PM, Jan 18, 2014   |    comments
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Video: Gasparilla pirates meet with stepped up security

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Tampa, Florida -- While pirates and spectators still outnumbered officers at the annual Gasparilla Children's Parade on Saturday, the number of cops patrolling the event was up.

Tampa Police Captain Elias Vazquez told 10 News more than a thousand officers were brought in this year to patrol the parade route. Vazquez said some officers patrolled on foot, others on Segways, and some used bikes and ATVs.

"We see lots of security around and we feel very safe, we feel very safe," said Terjiana Montalvo, who came from Riverview for the parade.

The stepped up security was a result of meetings TPD recently had with Boston officials to discuss ways to make such large public events safer.

Last year's Boston Marathon bombings has prompted agencies around the country to re-examine their security plans for major outdoor events like Gasparilla.

In addition to more officers, Vazquaz said authorities also deployed the Seminole Police Department's sky tower, giving officials a 45-foot perch from which to scan the crowd for any potential problems.

Plus, more surveillance cameras were set up along the parade route this year.

But Vazquez stressed the measures were for security reasons only.

"We're not here to spy on anybody. We're here just to make sure it's safe for everyone, and if we see anything suspicious then we'll react to that."

Of course, few likely noticed the added security, but even those who did told 10 News they didn't seem to mind.

"You can't live life worrying, so it's nice to see all the officers out here and being proactive, definitely," said Susan Martin.

Saturday's parade was expected to draw about 200,000 people, but next weekend's Day Parade is expected to draw a crowd of more than twice that, prompting Vazquez to say even more officers will be on hand for next weekend's event.

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