Republican National Convention 2012: TPD showing off key gear left in Tampa Bay after RNC

8:40 AM, Sep 7, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Police will show off a "revolutionary crime fighting tool" Friday morning, one of many now in their arsenal thanks to the Republican National Convention.

It's something of a mystery machine. Tampa Police won't tell us exactly what they'll be showing us.

But there are plenty of lasting law enforcement tools we "do know about" that are legacies of that RNC week we spent in the worldwide spotlight.

As protesters moved through Tampa -- sometimes by the hundreds, sometimes by the handful -- police tracked their every move using a network of cameras installed around the city.

That's just one of many examples of gear left behind for local law enforcement after the Republican National Convention.

Whether that camera system stays switched on, or gets sold to a different city, is up to Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

But there are plenty of other pieces of gear that are guaranteed to stick around.

The shields and helmets police call crowd control gear -- and most of us call riot gear -- is brand new and ours to keep. So are new upgrades and equipment for the SWAT team.

Tampa police got a $50 million grant from the federal government to provide for security in the city. Chief Jane Castor told 10 News she used every dollar of it.

A solid chunk went to covering overtime, travel, and housing for 3,500 officers around state.

Castor said she also leased equipment when possible to stretch that dollar even further. But for a great deal of gear, like brand new top-of-the-line radios, rental wasn't really an option. So those were bought and kept.

So were 200 bicycles for police. The chief says those bikes were the security stars of the show, valuable for quick movement and useful as mobile barricades.

Those bikes have gone with the officers who used them, back to their home agencies, spread all over the state of Florida.

Another lasting legacy can't be ridden or held. There's the boost in our state's law enforcement reputation -- now seen by many people around the world as firm but flexible.

That image should be a positive in many ways: good for tourism; good to attract businesses; and good for the confidence of the police officers, sheriff's deputies, and state troopers who came from across Florida to help out in Tampa Bay.

The Tampa Police Department will be showing us that mystery law enforcement tool at 10 a.m. on Friday. We'll show you what they're using in a live report on TV on 10 News at Noon.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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