TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Police Department isn’t taking any risks for this year’s Gasparilla Pirate Fest.
“It’s the busiest day of the year,” said Emily Denny.” Every year.”
Denny is the Tactical Dispatch Supervisor for TPD’s Communications Division.
“On a normal day in communications we have about roughly 20 people on duty,” Denny explained. “For Gasparilla, we’re going to have at least 30.”
For first timers, the experience is a different beast.
“We’ve seen a vast influx of tents and barricades and bridges and people and activity,” exclaimed Charles Michaels. “It’s pretty exciting.”
Michaels recently moved to Tampa from Los Angeles. He trusts the job the police are doing.
“I think we feel very safe, yes,” Michaels said. “I haven’t seen all that much in the way of police presence except for the occasional driving through, but I think our overall sense is that Tampa’s a very safe city.”
Other residents say the city has gotten better handling the various issues of the invasion.
“We’ve had kids pass out in the front yard and fights and stuff,” Larry Thornberry said. “Because folks imbibing of some adult beverages before, during and after the parade.”
Agencies from all over are descending on the city.
“We are still going to have the normal domestic disputes and ‘Someone broke into my car,’ type calls, so we’re still going to be handling that,” Denny said. “But we also have the thousands of officers that are coming to help our agency.”
A common call for police is lost kids, so the department has a message for pirate captains bringing their smaller first mates to the festival.
“We’re encouraging parents to take pictures of their children the day of the event,” Denny said. “So we actually know what they’re wearing and what they look like the day of.”
The department said they’re bringing in around 15 specially trained tactical dispatchers to handle the massive amount of information tomorrow. Officials said there will be so many cops, dispatchers will have information even before a 911 call comes in.