Tampa, Florida -- The drum beat of protest was heard this week in Tampa, but so were the marching orders of police: training, patience, restraint.
"Stay calm, remember your training, stay calm--and that was just the constant message to the officers this week," said Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor at a Friday news conference.
Even seasoned protesters found the approach refreshingly different.
"It was unexpected," Rev. Bruce Wright, who was involved in several protests, told 10 News. "They were much more polite than I expected."
The end result of this courteous strategy? Just two RNC-related arrests.
Yes, the weather did help. The threat of a hurricane kept away perhaps thousands of protesters. But that doesn't mean officers weren't tested by the hundreds that still marched down and blockaded city streets.
"We got yelled at, the donuts dangled in front of us and all the inciting tone, and all the flinches--trying to get an officer to over-react," describes Tampa's Asst. Chief John Bennett, who was often on the front lines during protests.
And police say the threat of violence was real. Sanitary workers found caches of poles and bricks in unusual places. And undercover intelligence revealed that some protesters had weapons in their backpacks.
However, a strong showing of force and a willingness to de-escalate tensions proved successful.
"They were wanting to feed off our aggression. We didn't give them that and as a result, we just shut'em down," said Col. Ed Duncan of the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office.
At the end of a long week, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and law enforcement are breathing a sigh of relief. And even an outside expert on police and protests agrees that this week Tampa was fortunate.
Prof. Eugene O'Donnell is both a former police officer and prosecutor, who now teaches political science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. He says the weather and small number of protesters did help make the week successful. Still, O'Donnell says, any protest can quickly turn south.
"All you need is one or two hot heads to tarnish this agency," he said in a phone interview. "So it shouldn't be understated how big an accomplishment it is."