TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s all hands on deck for local law enforcement to ensure Gasparilla 2020 is a safe success.
Surveillance towers dotted Bayshore Boulevard on Friday night as the Tampa Police Department and its partners prepare to batten down the hatches the thousands of people who will come for the Invasion and Parade of Pirates.
Police will be on the ground, in the air, and on the water to ensure the pillaging and plundering remains to pretend.
“It’s a fun time of year but it’s a busy time of year for TPD,” said Chief of Police Brian Dugan, in one of a handful of safety PSAs posted on the TPD Facebook page in the days leading up to the festivities.
A dozen different agencies, including Hillsborough deputies, FDLE, and the FBI Tampa field office will assist in the security endeavor. Boats, bikes, divers and bomb dogs patrol the invasion and parade routes.
A joint operations center helps them keep watch with live video feeds from cameras throughout downtown.
“We went last week to the Children’s Parade, and we had a lot of fun,” said Stephanie Tyler, whose family is experiencing the Gasparilla season for the first time. “We were so impressed with how the city and police and everybody controlled the crowds.”
On the other hand, Kendall Simpler is something of a Gasparilla guru who’s gone her whole life.
“My granddad was actually a Ye Mystic Krewe member back in the day,” Simpler said. “So Gasparilla is in my DNA.”
Simpler added that she’s noticed increased security over the years, and appreciates the effort.
“The City of Tampa does a great job with their efforts of increasing security and making sure everyone gets from A to B safely,” she said.
TPD reports it made 11 arrests during Gasparilla last year. Nine of those were for boating under the influence.
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