Tampa approves purchase of up to two miles of special fencing for Republican Convention listen04/19/12 Samuel Johnson
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On Thursday Tampa City Council approved almost a half million dollars for equipment and infrastructure for the Republican National Convention in August. Some of that money will be used to purchase lighter-duty uniforms for police officers.
Officers will wear patches on the new uniforms that will be attached by Velcro. Council member Lisa Montelione was concerned that the public wouldn’t be able to distinguish a bona fide law enforcement officer if the patch was somehow removed. But Assistant Police Chief John Bennett said that won’t be a problem.
”Just about every piece of equipment will have a numerical identification, a name identification. So there are other ways of accountability through the uniform process. It's not just that.”
Bennett told the council that the proposal calls for 1700 officers to be outfitted. They will need enough uniforms to wear every day. He said each uniform comes with a $300 price tag and will be purchased for both bike and standard patrol officers. Bennett said that Tampa will retain ownership of some of the uniforms.
”Well the individual officers from all the agencies would take them with them. So we would have our lot; Sheriffs would have theirs; all the mutual aid partners would have their uniforms. They're sized and obviously worn 12-14 hours a day by each person.”
City Council also approved $290,000 in temporary fencing from Premier Global. At a rate of $29 per foot, that could be up to nearly 2 miles of security barricades. Bennett told the council that this approach is their cheapest option.
”You know; what it would take to put officer positions at certain critical infrastructure to guard those locations as compared to fence? It's no comparison. We're talking millions (of dollars) versus the price that's on the resolution. So, not to mention that a fence is not effected by weather. You know, it's going to be extremely hot. So to stand a post and at the exchange of some security fence for the critical infrastructure that is deemed necessary. That is essentially what this is for.”
Earlier in April, council members agreed to postpone a vote on the first reading of the “Clean Zone” ordinance until Thursday, but that has been pushed back again to May 3. Opponents to the ordinance were disappointed in the delay because that means getting protest permits could take even longer. Council Member Frank Reddick asked why permit applications have not been granted.
Although no clear answer was given, council member Charlie Miranda promised to investigate what was causing the delays. Money allocated Thursday came from the $50 million grant from the federal government for RNC security.