Castor, officers prepare to defend city from pirates and other potential troublemakers

Whether on water or land, Tampa-area law enforcement agencies say they are prepared for Gasparilla 2020.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, lead by Mayor Jane Castor, agencies broke down how their entities are readying.

“Every time I try to explain Gasparilla to people from out of town, I eventually get to the point where I say, 'You just have to come down and see it,'” Castor said.

Thousands will take her advice.

While the pirates plan to make trouble for Mayor Castor as she celebrates her first Gasparilla in that role, the Tampa Police Department and dozens of other agencies will be there in case any real trouble spills over into the public.

“There will be plenty of law enforcement at the various events,” said Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan. “We would ask that each of you, anytime you see an officer or a cop, that you go up to them and say hello, but more importantly, you feel comfortable sharing information you may have.”

In other words, if you see something, say something.

Mark Brutnell, the FDLE’s special agent in charge, explains what that could mean.

“It’s all based on behaviors, not individuals,” he said. “So if you see some off behavior, like someone leaves a backpack in a crowded area, or a car is parked in an unauthorized area for more than five minutes or so, things that don’t seem normal or are out of the ordinary, let law enforcement know.”

Though they won’t disclose how many officers will be throughout the downtown area, as former chief of the Tampa Police Department, Castor knows it’s a multi-agency effort.

“You really have no idea how much effort it takes, or how many individuals are involved in making Gasparilla look seamless, and having a fun time for all of our residents and our visitors from around the United States,” she said.