Dialogue with demonstrators - why it works | News
Tampa, Florida - Hillsborough Lt. Kyle Cockrean patrols the streets of the Republican National Convention and loves every minute of it.
The 26-year veteran from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has a tall order - he's in charge of 200 officers on bike patrol. Even Lt. Cockrean rides a bike. He says it's the best way to get around during a large event like this.
"We can get around easily, and it makes a difference," he told us.
Lt. Cockrean has covered Super Bowls, hurricanes and now, a political convention. He calls being a part of this, an "honor."
Part of the reason things have gone so successfully with protesters, Lt. Cockrean admits, is the dialogue with demonstrators.
"We talk to them. They seem shocked when we actually have a conversation with them. They're used to brute force. We are there to talk, ask them what they want to accomplish," he said.
St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster talked about how dangerous things got in Minneapolis in 2008. "Police there admit that they lost control of the city for eight hours. That's not going to happen here. We've got things under control from all agencies."
There are a reported 21 agencies assisting in protecting the city.
The patrols go on day and night. Officers and deputies work what's called, "twelve on and twelve off," during their shifts. The city is covered at all times.
Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee agrees. "We are there to protect their first amendment rights. I am proud of all of my deputies."