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Tampa-area law enforcement takes part in training exercise ahead of Gasparilla

As hundreds of thousands of people prepare for our area’s biggest annual event, first responders are already working on ways to keep Gasparilla celebrations safe.

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay-area law enforcement on Tuesday held a massive training exercise at Marriott Water Street to get ready for the big crowds expected along Bayshore at the end of January. 

The event is a massive undertaking, and agencies from all across the area are collaborating to make sure they're prepared. 

"We'll have a lot of different agencies all over. Obviously, our officers are all working. We have the sheriff's office, we have the coast guard, there's too many to name right now.” Tampa Interim Police Chief Lee Bercaw said ahead of Tuesday's training.

During the training, law enforcement practiced several emergency situations.

"We have to make sure that if something were to occur, we're able to respond quickly and then exit that area if we need to get some type of medical emergency out of there,” said Donna Lusczynski, the chief deputy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. 

Police are preparing for everything from deliberate acts to a lost child. 

"Somebody could crash the parade route, somebody could do something on the water, any of these horrific incidents,” Lusczynski said.

"We have a child ID program and if you would like, you can take your child to our area and get an ID," Bercaw added.

Law enforcement reassured the public this is out of an abundance of caution, and they're not anticipating any major incidents. 

"There's no specific threat, but we like to practice this for every major event just to make sure that we know all our context, we have face-to-face communication to ensure we're all on the same page and our actions are going to be working in concert,” Lusczynski said.

All are confident everything is in place to ensure everyone has a good time. 

"Stay together, stay safe, enjoy yourself and have fun,” Bercaw said.

The Gasparilla Children's Parade is set for Jan. 21, and the Pirate Festival is scheduled for Jan. 28.

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