Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa ready to begin spending convention security funds on police upgrades

TAMPA — No sooner will the Tampa City Council accept $50 million for security at next year's Republican National Convention than it will begin to spend the money.

Council members are scheduled to vote on receiving the U.S. Department of Justice security grant on Thursday. Then, in their very next item of business, they will consider spending nearly $273,000 of the funds on a new armored SWAT team truck.

Later in the same meeting, they'll consider spending another $1.18 million from the grant to convert the analog video feed from cameras in police helicopters to a state-of-the-art digital downlink.

Police say they would need both upgrades eventually even without the GOP coming to town Aug. 27-30. But officials want both in place before the convention, which could draw an estimated 15,000 protesters.

"It's one of those things where you prepare for the worst and you hope for the best," Tampa Assistant Police Chief Marc Hamlin said Friday.

The city has two armored vehicles now. One is almost 20 years old, the other almost 30. "Both are military surplus," Hamlin said. "We're struggling to keep them going. Parts are hard to come by."

So the city is looking at spending $272,904 on a Lenco BearCat armored SWAT truck. The manufacturer, based in Massachusetts, uses secret proprietary methods to provide protection against assault weapon gunfire at a lighter weight than other vehicles. The BearCat has a turning radius of less than 18 feet, shorter than the length of the vehicle itself.

If the council approves the contract Thursday, Lenco said the vehicle could be delivered by July 12, six weeks ahead of the convention.

How the BearCat might be used at the convention "depends on what happens," Hamlin said, but such vehicles are typically called up to send officers into situations where they might draw fire. Other local agencies have similar vehicles that also are expected to be on hand for the convention.

The video downlink conversion would replace a system the department has used since 1999. It's as obsolete as black-and-white TV, Hamlin said. Agencies in Pinellas and Hillsborough have gone digital, and officials say Tampa needs to convert to be able to coordinate with them.

The new system would be able to stream encrypted, high-definition video to handheld receivers or monitors in police command and hostage negotiation vehicles. The system also would work with a Tampa Fire Rescue heavy rescue vehicle and fireboat.

The contract would go to sole bidder Broadcast Microwave Services of Poway, Calif. Tampa is asking that the company provide on-site technical assistance and support during the convention.

Up to two-thirds of the federal security grant, which was approved by Congress last month, will go toward bringing in, housing and feeding 3,000 or more outside law enforcement officers that the city thinks it will need to work the convention. That's on top of Tampa's nearly 1,000 police officers and Hillsborough's 1,100 sheriff's deputies.

The city also plans to spend up to $2 million installing about 60 surveillance cameras around downtown Tampa for the convention. And city officials say they could have to buy a couple of thousand radios so that officers coming to work the convention from different parts of the state will be on the same communications system as local officers.

Reach Richard Danielson at Danielson@tampabay.com, (813) 226-3403 or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.

Tampa ready to begin spending convention security funds on police upgrades 12/30/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 30, 2011 10:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa driver dies after swerving off Interstate 4 into canal

    Accidents

    PLANT CITY — A Tampa driver swerved off Interstate 4 Wednesday morning, plunging into a canal in a fatal crash, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.

  2. Editorial: Scott should keep demanding better for seniors in nursing homes

    Editorials

    The horrific story of elderly Floridians dying from the heat in a Broward County nursing home after surviving Hurricane Irma grows more outrageous. Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott's move to prevent it from accepting new …

    Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott’s move to prevent it from accepting new patients or Medicaid payments.
  3. DCF announces $133 million in federal aid for low-income families who lost food during Irma

    Hurricanes

    An additional $133 million is being distributed to Florida low-income families to help replace food destroyed by Hurricane Irma, the Florida Department of Children and Families announced today.

    The United States Department of Agriculture has made $133 million available to Florida low-income families to help them replace food damaged during Hurricane Irma
  4. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Luis Flores, executive chef at Ciccio Restaurant Group, prepares an Impossible Burger at Epicurean Hotel's Food Theatre. Impossible Burger is a plant-based burger that will launch on Sept. 27, 2017 in all the Ciccio Restaurant Group locations, except for Fresh Kitchen. "This burger caters to the carnivorous, not just the vegetarians" said Jeff Gigante, co-founder at Ciccio Restaurant Group. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  5. Plan your weekend: Sept. 22-24: Buffyfest, Arcade Fire, Howl-O-Scream, Wanderlust 108 and 'Rent'

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    Pop show

    Florida Björkestra's Buffyfest: Pop culture meets pop music when the Florida Björkestra, a 20-piece alternative-classical ensemble that tributes ground-breaking pop artists, on Saturday will play with eight vocalists for "Once More with …

    The 20th anniversary tour of RENT, shown in 2016, comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 19-24, 2017. Photo by Carol Rosegg.