TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Preparations for Gasparilla are well underway, and they aren’t just taking place along Bayshore Boulevard.
Law enforcement agencies have been hard at work since last year’s parades ended, revamping security measures to make sure all pirates stay safe during the Gasparilla Children’s Parade and the main Gasparilla Parade of Pirates.
The FBI Tampa Field Office will continue to assist local law enforcement at the parades this year. The office has a special events program through the FBI joint terrorism task force that resides in the office. The program provides support for operations and intelligence gather before and during events in the state.
“We will have support for both the children’s parade and the main parade for two consecutive weekends, so we’ll have FBI personnel out there integrated with our state and local counterparts supporting the operations,” said Supervisory Special Agent Kelly Shannon.
She said parade-goers should stay vigilant and know where law enforcement officials are in the area.
“Because we really do rely on the entire community to help keep us safe and keep us aware of things that might be out there that would be of concern so we can continue to stay ahead of things and take a more preventative stance with respect to any kind of threats, whether they’re criminal, counterterrorism related and such,” she said.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister spoke about security on News Channel 8 Today on Monday morning. He said the sheriff’s office meets the day after the Gasparilla Parade to start preparing for the next year.
Sheriff Chronister also stressed the importance of staying vigilant, stressing recent issues in the Middle East. Chronister said there are no specific, credible threats to Hillsborough County, but the sheriff’s office is working with local, state and federal partners to monitor issues.
“Because of the tensions in Iran, we’re asking everyone to remain extremely vigilant. And that’s the same thing with the parade-goers. Have a great time. This is a lot of family-filled fun coming up. But make sure you remain vigilant,” he said. “If you see something that doesn’t belong, we’re asking everyone, it’s all our responsibility, to notify an officer and let us know.”
“We hope that everybody has a good time and just know that we are out there in conjunction with our local and state counterparts to provide support,” said Special Agent Shannon.
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