The St. Pete Pride Parade is one of the largest LGBT events in Florida, with crowds expected to be over 100,000.
But after the shooting at a gay club in Orlando which took 49 lives and injured many more, the St. Petersburg Police Department has decided to step up security measures for the parade on Saturday, June 25.
“There are no direct threats towards the pride parade right now,” said Jim Previtera, the assistant police chief of the St. Petersburg Police Department. “But, despite that- what happened in Orlando has prompted us to add additional security. You will see additional uniformed police officers out there. There will be additional security measures that will be invisible to the eye.”
Police Chief Tony Holloway and Mayor Rick Kriseman announced at a question and answer session about security at the Pride Parade that the police department will be assisted by regional and national agencies, such as the FBI, the ATF and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The department is increasing the number of undercover officers and receiving two sky towers, which are elevated mobile observation towers, to use at the event.
The department is also in contact with Bayfront Health, so that the hospital will be ready in case of any emergency.
The police department recommended that the public report anything suspicious at, or before, the event.
“If you see something that is happening that appears urgent, pick up the phone and call 911” Previtera said. The police department also has a call in tip line, TIP411, that people can use to report suspicious activity.
The police department also recommended that people not bring firearms to the parade.
“Leave your weapons at home. It is very difficult for us to identify our own personnel in a crisis,” said Previtera, “And if a bunch of people produce guns… that could delay our response time and jeopardize the public’s safety.”
Mayor Kriseman said that the event was too important to cancel despite the shooting in Orlando.
“I think the message it sends to the state, the country, to the world is that we are not going to allow the actions of terrorists, of hate-mongers, stop us from living our lives and being a diverse community,” Kriseman said.