Tampa looking at $24.8 million in police personnel costs for Republican National Convention

Published Jun. 26, 2012

TAMPA — Paying local and out-of-town officers working the Republican National Convention is expected to cost nearly $25 million — about half of what Congress appropriated to secure the convention.

The Tampa City Council will be asked Thursday to sign off on spending $24.85 million of the city's $50 million federal convention security grant on personnel.

Of that, $4 million is for city salaries. The rest will go to the estimated 3,000 or more officers being brought in from 63 other agencies from around the Tampa Bay area and across Florida.

That said, officials plan for Tampa police and Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies to have the most contact with the 15,000 protesters expected at the Aug. 27-30 convention. They work together already, know the community, will have the most training, and will have the biggest stake in how the rest of the world sees Tampa.

"It only would make sense that those folks would be the firewall," Mayor Bob Buckhorn says. "Most of these other officers will be dispersed elsewhere around the community."

Paying that coalition of officers will be just one of the city's convention expenses.

Police have said they expect to spend $2 million on 1,500 hotel rooms for visiting officers and have budgeted $1 million to feed the coalition of police and deputies working the convention.

The city also plans to buy an insurance policy with $10 million worth of coverage for police working convention security.

"That's only fair," Buckhorn said. Officers coming in to Tampa to help the city should not have to worry about false accusations or frivolous lawsuits, he said.

Beyond personnel, the City Council so far has approved spending more than $14.9 million on convention-related security purchases that include police gear, vehicles and communications equipment:

• $6 million for more than 1,900 handheld or vehicle-mounted radios.

• $2 million for about 60 surveillance cameras to be installed around the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

• $1.9 million for body armor and protective gear.

• $1.18 million to upgrade the video links between police helicopters and ground commanders.

• $992,490 to enhance existing police software and technology that allows multiple agencies to size up risks, share information, organize resources, and map, track and respond to trouble as it takes place.

• $518,460 for 1,400 gas masks and accessories, including 20 "voice projection units."

• $516,200 for cotton uniforms.

• $464,236 for two Tampa Fire Rescue vehicles: a tactical support vehicle that can serve as a mobile command post and a truck for the SWAT medic team.

• $319,400 for 200 police bicycles.

• $290,000 for up to 10,000 feet of temporary security fences to be put up around city and county buildings.

• $272,904 for an armored police SWAT vehicle.

• $225,063 for 225 tactical communications headsets, plus accessories and three days of training.

• $150,730 for 13 Bobcat 4x4 utility vehicles.

• $85,580 for 17,400 short- and long-sleeved, all-cotton printed T-shirts.