St. Petersburg police to open Emergency Operations Center during Pride
ST. PETERSBURG — After marching next to the mayor in the Pride parade Saturday night, Police Chief Tony Holloway will head up the road to the city’s Emergency Operations Center, where officials from several agencies have set up a command post for the celebration.
Following the terrorist attack that killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando last week, police in St. Petersburg have increased security at the local Pride event on Central Avenue.
On Friday, Holloway showed the command post to reporters.
Stations at several tables include computers for crime analysts and phones for officers to communicate with people on the ground. Undercover and uniformed officers will patrol the parade route, Holloway said, while people in the Emergency Operations Center monitor television screens with live video feeds of the festivities.
“We want to make sure when they come to the event they feel safe,” Holloway said of this year’s attendees.
Three observation towers with cameras will be set up along the route, he said, one more than police had originally expected. The Tampa Police Department is bringing over additional mobile cameras that will be connected to the screens at the command post.
Holloway said the heightened law enforcement presence is a step up for St. Petersburg but resembles the preparations for Tampa’s Gasparilla celebration each year. Officers also staff a command post downtown during the annual Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Message boards around the parade route will advise people to report tips if they spot anything suspicious.
The Emergency Operations Center, on Third Avenue N near 16th Street, is typically used in major storms. Authorities will keep it open both Saturday and Sunday.