TAMPA, Fla — Law enforcement in Tampa said they’re gearing up for record crowds in this year's Gasparilla Parade of Pirates.
“This is game day for us," Roy Paz, master patrol officer with the Tampa Police Department, said. "We are very excited about Gasparilla.”
For the TPD's motor unit, there's an element of entertainment involved as the 14-man crew performs circles and line drills.
"It is a lot of fun and I think it's a big crowd pleaser," Paz said. "The crowd likes watching that. When we're coming out of each other, we also do 360 circles as a group.”
Their primary job, however, is safety and crowd control.
"A lot of people like to claim spaces. They'll go and rope out an area at Gasparilla," Paz said. "And one of the things that we do is as we're going down the parade route, we look for things like that and we're reminding them, you can't do something like that.”
The motor unit is just one element of a large ground force that will be on hand for the big day.
"We'll be out there in uniform, we'll be out there in plain clothes," Interim Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw said. "So we're gonna have a high presence."
Being a motorcycle officer during the Gasparilla parade is a high visibility job that comes with it’s own dangers, according to Paz.
"The little hazards at Gasparilla are the beads on the ground, they'll wash your front tire out on you," Paz said. "Also, we've had some incidences where you're doing your job and all of a sudden you get hit in a helmet with a bead.”
The motor unit is another tool that law enforcement and the city said they're using to get ready for what could be a record setting event.