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Tampa police begin crowd control training for the 2012 Republican National Convention



There are still 403 days to go until next year’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, but the Department of Homeland Security is already training police on crowd control. Officers and deputies from Tampa, Clearwater, Lakeland, Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties have gone through the three-day course, which began in June.

And they may need it, based on the experience of the 2008 GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn. There, authorities estimated that about 500 of the 10,000 protesters were anarchists who came to town to shut down the convention. Along the way, the most violent of them rammed a police car with a burning dumpster, smashed windshields on police cruisers and broke more than a dozen plate-glass windows. Local authorities, augmented by 150 Minnesota National Guard troops, responded with tear gas and pepper spray and arrested more than 250 people. At one point, demonstrators trying to cross a bridge were met by a barricade of parked snowplows, gravel trucks and officers in riot gear. Five of the St. Paul protesters, dressed all in black, carried backpacks with weapons, including nails, clubs and a bag of feces, according to news reports from the convention.

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