This year’s Gasparilla Festival was diligently monitored by Tampa police officers with respect to the Tampa Police Department’s policy stipulation that it would exercise zero tolerance pertaining to alcoholic beverage laws and related enforcement aspects. With a crowd believed to be approximately 250,000 in attendance, law enforcement officials cited prior years of the Gasparilla Festival and therefore enacted a tighter, more firm reign over party-goers and alcoholic consumption. Illegal activities of those violating beverage laws and/or exhibitive of disorderly conduct were dealt with, acutely.
The Tampa police officers, supplemented by deputy sheriff’s from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (Tampa, FL), the Temple Terrace Police Department (a suburban- Tampa agency), Plant City Police Department, and agents from the state’s Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT) enforcement division, patrolled the crowd and streets on foot, on bicycles, within police cruisers, on segways, and upon police motorcycles.
Additionally, various law enforcement agencies were represented on the waterways of Tampa Bay, to maintain safety, provide boating resources, and enforce boating laws. Marine officers from the Tampa Police marine unit were complemented by marine officers from the Temple Terrace Police Department, Florida Freshwater Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Among the collage of boats on the water, and pedestrians on the surface streets, 68 arrests were effected. Moreover, 131 citations were issued. In comparison to last year’s Gasparilla statistics–302 citations and 50 arrests in 2012–Tampa’s zero tolerance policy indicates an unrelenting adherence to the policy, equating to definite consequences for illegal activity and behavior.
For further comparison, recent years’ Gasparilla arrests/citations data are as follows: In 2011, 342 people were arrested–277 of which were alcohol arrests–43 for underage drinking. In 2010, 415 people were arrested–367 of which were alcohol arrests–nine for underage drinking. Arrest activity seems to have tapered, believably due to Tampa’s zero-tolerance policy.
During Gasparilla 2012, a newly-enacted ordinance permitting police officers to issue citations to attendees consuming alcohol outside of wet zones resulted in a marked decline in arrests, compared to previous years.
Further, eight adults were arrested for felony charges. Sixty people were arrested regarding misdemeanor charges including disorderly conduct, petty theft, and possession of marijuana. Thirty-one of the 60 misdemeanor arrests stemmed from those charged with illegal consumption of alcohol by adults 18-20 years of age, per Tampa police records.
One juvenile was arrested for theft, another for underage drinking.
Overall, law enforcement authorities provided a safe, secure and fun-filled environment for the many who turned out this year for Gasparilla 2013.