Police preparing to patrol Tampa Bay waterways ahead of Gasparilla

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Argh you ready for Gasparilla? Tampa Bay law enforcement agencies certainly are.

Officers will be on foot, on horseback, on bikes and in the water in an effort to ensure the safety of those that attend the Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of Pirates. 



Officer Daniel Spears with the Tampa Police Department’s Marine Unit is responsible for keeping a watchful eye on Tampa Bay’s waterways. He tells 8 On Your Side he’ll make sure pirates don’t get out of hand and captains haven’t had too much to drink.  

“This boat actually is one of our more important vessels. It is our largest vessel. We typically use it as a command post. It can house a lot more response teams on it,” Spears said during a tour of the boat. “Typically this boat will be the majority of the response team should an incident occur. We are just making sure everyone is safe. We are trying to identify a problem before it happens.”

Gasparilla is expected to cause bumper to bumper boating traffic. 

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“There’s going to be so many boats here, they sometimes unintentionally make contact with each other. It will be very congested. Kayaks and jet skis are not allowed at these events because they are so low profile, they can unintendedly get run over because someone didn’t see them. It’s just that congested,” said Spears. 

Tampa Police Department’s Marine Unit is also prepared with onboard technology like electronic navigation charts. 

“We can immediately mark a man overboard button and it will pinpoint a GPS heading of where this incident happened,” said Spears. 



For more information on Gasparilla event updates, safety tips, and traffic alerts, text GASPARILLA to 888-777.  

The Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of Pirates is set for Saturday, Jan. 25. You can watch the parade live on News Channel 8. 

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