1. News

This week's RNC security spending: software, bicycles, utility vehicles

Published Apr. 3, 2012

TAMPA — Another week, another $1.4 million in proposed police spending for the Republican National Convention.

On Thursday, the Tampa City Council will consider making the following payments:

• $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.

• $319,400 for 200 new bicycles for a convention bike patrol. The Kona bikes, costing nearly $1,600 each, will be built especially for police use, with sturdy frames, ergonomic handlebars, lights, sirens, special shocks, a battery pack, larger tires and a pack on the back to hold paperwork and a first-aid kit.

• $150,730 for 13 Bobcat 4x4 utility vehicles — think of a souped-up, rugged golf cart — for zipping around to do crowd management, safety and security duties during the convention.

These purchases would push the total spent so far on technology, vehicles and equipment to nearly $13.3 million.

Tampa is buying the technology upgrades from three companies — NC4, Digital Sandbox and Environmental Systems Research Institute — for systems that it already has.

The city has used the technology since 2005 and purchased it with federal funds earmarked to enhance urban security and prepare for major events.

Before making those original purchases, however, police wanted to make sure they'd use the systems routinely, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

The NC4 system, for example, allows authorities to share information among local, state and federal agencies during a large event or incident. It's used at all Tampa Bay Buccaneers and University of South Florida Bulls football games. It has also been used for Gasparilla, the Super Bowl and the manhunt for Dontae Morris, accused of killing two Tampa police officers.

"When you have multiple agencies involved, everyone can share information in real time," McElroy said. "We are upgrading it for the RNC."

Funds for all of the purchases would come from the city's $50 million federal grant for security at the convention, scheduled for Aug. 27-30.

The largest part of the grant — from half to two-thirds — is expected to be spent on personnel, including bringing in, bunking and feeding about 3,000 law enforcement officers from outside the Tampa Bay area.

Richard Danielson can be reached at or (813) 226-3403.