The Tampa Police Department received quite a swag bag from the federal government as part of the 50 million bucks the city received to provide security during the recent RNC
A swag bag is what you get to take home with you after attending, or being involved in some big event, like the Olympics, The Super Bowl, the Academy Awards or a political convention.
And boy, we got an interesting assortment of high tech security stuff in our swag bags.
Swat team cars; fancy radios that can actually call Mars; handcuffs emblazoned with glitter elephant thingys; little clown cars made for patrolling the streets whilst lying down in the back; bikes -man what bikes – 1600 bucks a pop and worth every penny of it; snazzy khaki shorts and shirts for when our police are deployed to the Middle East to clean up the Arab Spring inferno, and, oh yeah, webcams.
A lot of people in Tampa -especially downtown Tampa – are not happy about those webcams -especially the ACLU and downtown Tampa’s homeless community, and they want the webcams turned off. Permanently.
The ACLU wants them turned off because they believe the cameras are an intrusion into the privacy of the residents where the the webcams are installed, the homeless community want them turned off because, well, because, they would just like to get some sleep, please, and then maybe during the day have a place to sit down for more than an hour.
The homeless people of downtown Tampa were very patient during the RNC.
They were kindly but firmly shooed out of their hidey- hole sleeping spots and herded up the Nebraska street, and other scattered-site hidey hole sleeping areas, and didn’t complain much.
Probably because they knew about all of those 1,000 beds at Orient Jail awaiting them if they didn’t get out of Dodge before the conventioneers and journalists and protesters came rushing into town.
And they were astonished one morning to discover that all of the park benches and trash cans around the downtown area had disappeared, thus, no place to sit all afternoon, and no place to dispose of their pop cans.
Ok, the RNC is done. The benches and trash cans are back. The hidey-holes are open.
One problem. The webcams.
And they are everywhere. Including the places where members of the downtown homeless community are most likely to concentrate, be they sitting, eating, drinking or sleeping.
Examiner has checked the RNCCTV app which shows the location of every webcam in the downtown area.
Yup. Strategically placed right where the police can keep an eye on all of them, all of the time if they want, and never have to move out of their offices or cars.
You can imagine the grumbling that has been going on all week about this state of affairs.
Can’t sleep anywhere,or you will be trespassed. By remote control. Can’t sit anywhere for more than an hour or you will be shooed away.
Well, this whole issue will be discussed at the Tampa City Council meeting next Thursday morning, Sept. 20, and everybody will get to have their say.
The ACLU, the homeless, the residents, the police and even the guy who nailed the cameras by designing the RNCCTV app -who is violently opposed to keeping the cameras active.
And then, guess who gets to decide whether the city keeps the webcams operational, or they go into the trash can or are loaned out to all of the people who like to spy on their spouses.
That’s right. The Big Guy. Mayor Bob. The final decision is his and his alone.
“The taxpayers paid two million bucks for those cameras,” he said in a recent interview. “For us to turn them off and let pigeons roost on them, would be a colossal waste of money.”
Ok, now somebody needs to speak up for all those pigeons who are now out of a place to roost.