The Tampa Police Department used a new tool this year to make sure Gasparilla is a safe event. The department pressed those controversial surveillance cameras, purchased for the Republican National Convention, into action.
Officers are monitoring the nearly one hundred cameras and relaying anything questionable they see to the command post, which in turn, dispatches officers. "We're just looking for anything that might cause alarm," said Captain Mike Baumaister with Tampa Police. "It could be anything from a lost child, to a fight, to an alcohol violation. But we're not focusing on alcohol, that's not our focus. It's usually the affects of alcohol, when people drink they tend to get rowdy. "
It didn't take long for the cameras to pay off. Before the Parade even started, officers spotted something that needed to be checked out. "The camera operators noticed a briefcase that was just kind of sitting there. They immediately notified the command post, we dispatched officers right away, we were able to find the owner of the briefcase which just happened to be a worker who set it down for a minute. Normally, if that was delayed and we had found it and the owner had walked away from it, it could escalate to a bomb call. "
Officers patrolling the parade route say trying to get to calls in a sea of partiers is challenging, and they believe the cameras will help them get to those situations much quicker. "These cameras are very helpful in or job," said Corporal Eric DeFelice. "It allows us to have that eye in the sky and less officers on the street. You take a camera, it rotates 360 degrees, you can see problems, sometimes before they start. "
Those cameras cost about two million dollars to install.
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