Terrain and Policing

In our short time in Tampa we noticed an interesting phenomenon, a space of such focused channeling of movement as to almost appear abandoned. While this can partially be explained by the fact that Tampa is a relatively “new” city, built up since the advent of the automobile and the freeway system, there is an odd feeling when traveling around the city. One thing to understand about Tampa is that it is a remarkably compartmentalized space; the residential areas are completely separated from the downtown commercial district, the parking for downtown is separate from the commercial areas and all of these areas are separate from outlying commercial districts. This leads to the feeling, during the day, that Tampa is an almost vacant space. No one is on the streets, there are no visible police, there is no traffic, and this is the primary mystery that we will focus on in this section of the report.

 

But, before we get into the empirical observations, and discussions of the framework of understanding that underlies this section, we would like to first lay out the structure of this section of our larger report. To begin, the city of Tampa is 116.1 sq miles of sprawling residential neighborhoods, with a concentrated downtown area and a couple of islands to the south of the city. In this space there are 343,890 residents living within city limits, a density of 2962 per square mile with most of this population concentrated in the sprawling West Tampa area. It seems to make sense, in attempting to make sense of the Tampa and Greater Tampa area, to break this space down by both geographic and urban zones. The first zone that we will engage with is the downtown area; an area of town directly structured to facilitate the movement of workers to and from work in the office towers that exist to on the western edge of the downtown area. Then we will discuss the Channel District and Convention Center area to the southern and eastern edges of the downtown area; an area of town largely based in the tourism industry and the launching pads for cruise ships, this is also the zone in which the RNC itself will be held in. Next, we will move to the Ybor City area to the north and east of the main areas of downtown, a large commercial district of bars and clubs that will play host to any number of official and unofficial delegate functions. We will then move into West Tampa, which exists west of the Hillsborough River, this area is the home of a number of Host Committee members and the University of Tampa and is almost completely residential. After this we will talk about the Harbour and Davis Islands, islands that exist to the south of the downtown area. Finally we will look at the outlying areas of St Petersburg, Clearwater and Treasure Island where a large number of delegates will be staying and holding events; this area exists to the south-west of the city along the Gulf coast.

 

After we review some of the terrain of the area we will be taking a look at the Tampa Police, a force of 973 cops that will grow to around 4000 during the convention. Normally this section would be largely straight forward. While all urban spaces are fundamentally different the operations of the police tend to follow some well traveled paths. This is not the case in Tampa. What first struck us, after the apparent lack of any visible life on the streets of downtown, was the noticeable absence of marked police in any form. There are the signs of their presence, signs on buildings, cameras and a huge blue cube in the center of downtown that acts as the central police station, but the almost total lack of a visible police presence became such an enigma, became such a mystery, that it became the obsession of some of us during our initial reconnaissance trip.

 

As the convention approaches this information will obviously undergo some modifications. No urban space ever remains static, it is always in flux. Contrary to the obviousness of the stone structures, the carved out roads, the entrenched paths of movement the city is a space of action, of movement, and as such it is always a space in evolution, always particular at any moment, always in movement. The buildings degrade, the streets shift under the weight of thousands of machines, the dynamics shift with the shift of those that enter the space, businesses open and close, spaces are restricted by the police; the city of a living breathing conjunction of the innumerable dynamics of existence at any specif moment. It is no wonder that Machiavelli spoke endlessly about the need to disperse the street, this great point of conjunction.

 

This is especially the case before large “public” events where security and police operations will morph this space from a city to a battleground. Time after time we have undertaken large scale research projects before conventions and summits, hoping to amplify the effectiveness of actions on the street, and every time, inevitably all we can ever produce is static maps, maps that are inaccurate the second they are laid down on paper. So, with this report we urge you all not to take this as THE map, or some essential piece of information and intelligence. Rather, we urge everyone reading this report to take this as a point of departure, a beginning point in your own analysis, in the hope that we will learn to be more fluid, more dynamic in our thinking about space and spaces. In other words, this is a report and a call to action. Until we can inhabit our spaces, begin to look at space as something in movement, begin to look at space as alive and particular, we will continue to fall back into the traps of planning, of laying down static paths of movement through a space that we view as static. This is a call to research your own spaces, find the windows, find the targets, find the openings and the operations that shape this space as a space policed. Until we can do this we are always fighting our perceptions of tactical dynamics but not engaging in them as such. While it may seem odd that this call is being made through a mapping project this, in a certain sense, is the only sort of project that can make this call. It is only in a project that embraces, and articulates, the shortcomings and conceptual essentialisms of its own attempts that we can begin to read the project through its paradox, and through this begin to treat it as a dynamic that is alive and mobile. With this, we will begin…

 

 

Downtown Tampa

 

Downtown Tampa is a city terrain that, for many of those unfamiliar with its dynamics, may seem odd. Unlike other major urban spaces Tampa incorporates a series of features that have been developed to sectionally divide and channel the dynamics of the space through a focus on efficiency. Far from the more “organic” spaces of a city like New York or Chicago, Tampa was a city based around the automobile. The wide avenues, rings of freeways, expansive banks of concentrated parking, occupy the majority of the space in the downtown area. What results is a downtown divided within itself, sectioned off into parts devoted to office space, traffic facilitation and governmental functionality. Within this space only a small spatial section is actually of use during the day, most of the downtown area is practically abandoned, except for the empty cars, for the majority of the day, and the weekends are positively dead. But before we delve into the dynamics of downtown Tampa we should first actually define this region for the purposes of this report.

 

What we are calling the downtown area exists in a series of three primary areas. The downtown zone itself is bordered by the Crosstown Expressway, or FL 618, which forms the southern and eastern borders, the Hillsborough River, which forms the western border, and I-275, which forms the northern border. It exists to the east of West Tampa, which is connected through a series of bridges over the Hillsborough River, to the north and west of the Channel District/Convention District, north and east of Davis and Harbour Islands, and south-west of Ybor City. Within this area, as was mentioned, there are three primary areas.

 

The first is the commercial core of downtown, which extends from the Hillsborough Riverfront to Florida Avenue. This is where most of the activity of the downtown area is during the day. The western edge of this area is the riverfront, an area which includes a series of hotels on the southern half of the riverfront, Curtis Hixon Park in the central riverfront and the Tampa Museum of Art and the Straz Performing Arts Center (both venues for delegate events during the convention) on the northern edge of the riverfront. The center of this area is a long, rectangular, business district between Tampa Street to Florida Ave, east-west, and Twiggs St and Whiting St, north south. This area is contains offices for Sun Trust, at Florida Ave and Jackson St, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch/ Tampa Bay 2012 Host Committee (on the 33rd Floor), at Kennedy Blvd and Tampa St, and Wells Fargo, at Tampa City Center at Jackson St and Florida Ave, Fifth-Third Bank Center, at Kennedy Blvd and Tampa St, and BB&T, at Kennedy Blvd and Ashley St. There is a commercial district comprised of locally owned coffee shops, book stores and restaurants that runs along Twiggs St and Tampa St in the block north of Gaslight Park. Also within this area is the headquarters for the Police Department, right across the street from Gaslight Park at Kennedy St and Franklin St, and City Hall at Jackson and Florida. The roads in this area tend to be wide, straight, avenues which are constructed to facilitate traffic flow in and out of the city.

 

The second zone of downtown is the large banks of parking that exist between Washington St and Fl 618, and literally this area is all parking lots and garages. When we first came upon this area of downtown it was the source of much discussion, it was difficult to discern why half of the downtown area would be made up of nothing but parking. Upon closer examination this seems to serve two primary purposes. Firstly, this area exists directly north and west of Fl 618, the primary route into downtown. During rush-hour the traffic literally comes directly off the freeway and into parking, alleviating traffic jams in the core of downtown, both during the morning and evening. The second purpose is to facilitate parking for events at the Convention Center and the St Pete Times Forum (the venue for the convention), which are both south of this parking area. At the southern and eastern edges of this area is FL 618, which runs as an elevated freeway for this portion of its trajectory, with underpasses stretching along the length of this border. These underpasses are both traffic hubs, as they enter downtown going north into a bank of parking lots, and chokepoints, as they pass under Fl 618. There are exits off FL 618 at Florida St, Brorein St and Morgan St which are chokepoints where traffic tend to build up during rush-hour and events at the St Pete Times Forum

 

The third zone of downtown is the administrative center for Hillsborough County. As was mentioned before the Police Department and City Hall exist in zone 1 of downtown, but the county administration exists in the north-east section, the third zone, of downtown. This zone runs from Jackson St to Cass St, north-south, and Florida Ave to Fl 618 and Nebraska St, east-west. Within this area is the Old Federal Court House, at Florida Ave and Twiggs St, the Federal Courthouse, at Florida and Cass, County Government Offices, Twiggs and Jefferson St and another at Kennedy Blvd and Morgan St, and the county courthouses, Twiggs and Jefferson.

 

During the convention we fully expect that this area will be outside the hard security perimeter but we also expect that much of downtown will be within a vehicle exclusion zone. Now, there has been discussion of the city of Tampa purchasing up to 1200 cameras for the convention, which is a fundamental part of the police operations that we will talk about later, and we fully expect that most of these will be positioned downtown. The area to the south of the second zone of downtown will most likely be the base of the hard perimeter. After looking at the terrain, the openness of zone 2, and comparing this to past summits, we expect that the majority of the northern security perimeter will run under FL 618, using the underpasses as the basis for the perimeter, fencing off the roads that run under FL 618 and using the open space of the parking lots to gain greater visibility on the movements of demonstrators. Within downtown there are very few gathering points. Gaslight Park is directly across the street from the Police Department and Curtis Hixon Park, the site of Occupy Tampa, has a parking garage that runs under the park that houses city vehicles and undercover police cars. There are possible police staging areas to the north-east of the administrative section of downtown in an area that runs between I 275 and Fl 618, in a small area of primarily warehouses and open land that separates downtown from Ybor City, as well as in the parking areas in zone 2; though we are predicting that they will stage from the Channel District in an area of open fields on Meridian Ave.

 

 

The Channel District and “Convention Center District”

 

The convention itself will be primarily occurring in the “Convention Center District”/Channel District, an area that we fully expect to be behind a hard perimeter. This section of Tampa exists to the south and east of downtown, separated by Fl 618, and north of Davis Island. The area itself winds along the southern and eastern edges of the peninsula that the center of Tampa is built on. Within this area are a series of large convention centers and hotels as well as major shopping areas and a launching site for cruise ships. The western edge of this district is the Tampa Convention Center and Parking Garage, this is not the venue for the main parts of the RNC, but will be used as an axillary site for specific events, which is bordered by Dick Greco Plaza, a small park along the bayfront. To the east of the Convention Center is a series of VIP hotels, the Embassy Suites at Franklin Ave and Channelside Dr, and the Tampa Marriott Waterside on Franklin Ave and Water St. To the east of these hotels is the St Pete Times Forum, the venue for the convention which is bordered to the south by Fort Brooke Park, which runs along the waterfront. As you move up Channelside Dr, and along the trolley tracks that run through this area, you will pass the Tampa Bay History Center , a venue for delegate events. As you travel further east along the water front you come to a commercial district that is based around a cruise-ship launching site and Channelside Bay Plaza. Here the peninsula takes a dramatic turn to the north as you pass the Florida Aquarium, another venue for delegate events. As the Channelside District moves to the north is becomes mostly port-centric infrastructure with the Port Authority being based at Kennedy Blvd and Channelside Dr.

 

The primary areas of interest in this part of Tampa, outside of the venues themselves, are Meridian Dr, a wide avenue that runs the length of the core of Tampa, north to south, Channelside Dr, which is the main road through this district as well as the primary route to connect the Channel District and Ybor City, both areas of highly concentrated convention venues. This district is also where we predict the staging area will be. There is a series of empty lots to the immediate north of the St Pete Times Forum, between FL 618 and Meridian Ave, that is 4 blocks north-south by 3 blocks east-west. This open area borders the convention center, the main perimeter (if our projections are correct) and Meridian Ave, which is a wide avenue that connects to the main areas of downtown with the width facilitating vehicular movement. This area will also be relatively open, or so we predict. While we will argue that the main security perimeter will use FL 618 as a northern border we are expecting the perimeter to find its eastern edge at Jefferson St, here FL 618 takes a turn to the north and tails away from the Times Forum. With that said, there is little doubt that there will be hard perimeter sections within the Channel District, most likely on Meridian Ave, immediately south of Cumberland St, and on Channelside, directly south of the traffic circle at Channelside and Cumberland. A perimeter of this size, coupled with the positioning of the predicted staging area will allow security forces to contain the main area of convention activity while still maintaining a rather light perimeter based on hard blockades of single roads and the use of choke points, rather than a fence which stretches blocks on end in one continuous path. Large, continuous, perimeters are difficult to defend, it requires the ability to guard the whole of the perimeter, either from outside or inside the perimeter. A broken perimeter which focuses on blocking single roads and other choke points, like we saw with the hard perimeter during the G20 in Pittsburgh, allows them to be able to focus on a limited amount of possible points of infiltration, in this case protecting the huge open gap in space with a staging area, freeing up forces to pursue and engage outside the perimeter.

 

 

West Tampa

 

The term West Tampa, as used by us, delineates a vast area of Tampa and the main residential area. West Tampa ranges from west of the Hillsborough River, so west of Downtown, north to Hillsborough Ave and south to the Bays and Macdill Air Force Base. In other words, West Tampa encompasses the entirety of the peninsula that juts out into Tampa Bay and all the way, north, to the airport. This vast area, like we mentioned, is a primarily residential area, but within this there is everything from some of the most upscale areas in the Tampa area all the way to some of the most working class areas, both to the north around the airport and to the south by the Air Force Base.

 

The wealthy areas of West Tampa run along Bayshore Blvd, a wide avenue, with a median in the middle, which is both a major artery into the city as well as the main route into the upscale areas of Tampa. In this area you will find a grid of narrow, tree lined streets filled with mansions and expensive bay-side condos. Not only is this area the heart of the wealth in the Tampa area, it is also the home of a large number of the Host Committee for the convention, living largely within a block or two from Bayshore. As the peninsula tapers off to the south the houses become smaller, mostly working class homes or vacation cottages for retirees and the wealthy. At the very souther tip of the peninsula is MacDill Air Force Base, one of the Air Force’s primary mid-air refueling and airlift support bases.

 

To the north of Bayshore is a vast expanse of urban sprawl, largely comprised of single family homes and strips of commercial “development”. This area begins, to the south, as a wealthy area, along Bayshore, and tapers off into increasingly low income areas. In this area there are two primary points of interest, outside of the scattered Host Committee members and former politicians that live in isolated alcoves of this area, the University of Tampa and the Tampa International Airport. The University of Tampa is directly across the Hillsborough River from the Tampa Museum of Art and Curtis Hixon Park, along Kennedy Blvd. This university will be “off-limits” during the convention, of course with the exception of the delegates attending the events that will be held there. The campus itself inhabits an area of 4 blocks by 4 blocks, with the residential areas primarily to the northern-western edges of the campus, and the Kennedy Blvd edge of the campus is framed by a large brick wall with iron gates and guard posts, but the northern-western edge of the campus is much easier to access through. The university itself is a private school, mostly focused on business “education”, and has around 6500 students that attend full time, 70% live on campus. The largest single donor to the school is John Sykes, founder of Sykes Enterprises, a major job outsourcing firm which outsources tech support and customer services to underpaid employees in over 25 countries. The Tampa International Airport exists to the north-west corner of the West Tampa area, and will most likely be the primary route into the city for delegates to the convention. On the south-east border of the airport is the International Plaza, a large shopping center and commercial district with stores such as Neiman Marcus, Crate and Barrel and the Cheesecake Factory.

 

Ybor City

 

Before getting into the tactical terrain of Ybor City it is important to set forward a little history of the area. When Tampa was a small, backwoods, trading post a wealthy cigar magnate moved his operations to the area, to the area known as Ybor City. In the early 1880s Vincente Martinez Ybor had a problem. He owned cigar factories in Key West, and those factories, which produced a large portion of the cigars produced in the US, were unionizing. Rather than allow workers to organize he picked up and moved to Tampa, at that time a small town of less than 1000 residents and a struggling economy. The neighborhood began as a company town in the middle of Tampa, an area where all the houses were owned by Ybor. He “allowed” workers to live in these houses, of course after incurring debt to the company; if they organized or were hurt on the job, they were evicted from their houses, literally a serf-master relationship. As the neighborhood developed it became a hub for Cuban, Mexican and Sicilian immigrants to the area, all of whom worked in the cigar factories. In the 1960s the neighborhood entered a period of decline, as the suburbs built up and production declined. By the mid-1970s artists began to move into the neighborhood, beginning the slow decline of gentrification. By the mid 1990s the city was touting the success they had in “reclaiming” Ybor for the gentry and artist classes; it also became the most heavily policed neighborhood in the city. In 1998 gentrification was capped off with the construction of the Centro, a huge shopping and “entertainment” complex on the northern edge of Ybor; this will also be a central delegate party spot.

 

Ybor City itself is a commercial district and residential neighborhood that serves as the central bar and club district for the city as well as the center of the city’s GLBTIQ community. It is east and north of downtown and north of Channel District, running north of FL 618, east of Niccio Parkway, west of 22nd St, north of 6th Ave and south of Palm Ave. The area is very self-contained, separated from areas north and west by Hillsborough Community College and from the south by FL 618. The main strip of Ybor runs along 7th Ave. The Centro is located on 8th Ave and spans an area of 2 blocks.

 

The Ybor City area is, as we mentioned, the most policed area of Tampa. This area was the test area for facial recognition cameras in the early 2000s, generating a series of ACLU lawsuits. The cameras are usually hidden at the tops of poles, not labeled or lit by flashing lights like in other cities. This area is also covered with jump-out squads, undercover squads that space themselves around an area and swarm “troubled spots”, we will talk a lot more about this in the section on the Tampa Police.

 

Davis Island

 

Davis Island is a largely residential island to the south-west of Downtown. It plays home to the majr hospital in the City, Tampa General Hospital, and a large residential area, which is home to a few Host Committee members who live to the western-central portion of the island. From the looks of it Davis Island is mostly home to middle-class families with a few upscale areas to the western edge of the island. There is one major road that runs around the whole of the island, a 4 lane wide avenue called Davis Ave. The main commercial district for the island exists to the eastern edge of the center of the island, along Davis Ave, where the road itself narrows to 2 lanes. There is also a small, private, airport on the southern tip of the island, largely serving small charter flights. This may also be a main artery into the city for delegates.

 

The island itself is difficult to access, leading to the question as to why the main hospital for Tampa is based there; to get to the island requires taking a road off Bayshore Blvd that loops around and end up going over Davis Blvd Bridge. Tampa General Hospital is east of the entry road and in a road grid that is set off from the general road grid and generally exists on its own road grid. Now, this island, and its entry road, are major choke points, but blocking the island will block off access to Tampa General, and as far as we can tell there is no way to cut access to the island without also blocking the hospital unless there are blockades on the island, in very targeted places.

 

Harbour Island

 

Harbour Island, which exists to the south of the Convention District, is populated mostly by gated communities. When you enter the island there are about two blocks, to the extreme northern edge of the island, directly across from the Convention Center that is made up of a major shopping center and a series of hotels, along South Harbour Island Blvd. Once past this area there security check-points to get into the gated communities, running the length of Knights Run Ave. There is only one way onto the island, a bridge on Franklin St/S Harbour Island Blvd, and one way off the island, on Beneficial Blvd/Channelside Dr. Given the proximity to the St Pete Times Forum and the positioning of the access roads, which run directly into the Convention District and the Channel District, we assume that this area will be within the security perimeter during the convention.

 

St Petersburg/ Clearwater/ Treasure Island

 

St Petersburg, Clearwater and Treasure Island are resort towns that exist on a large peninsula to the west of Tampa. The peninsula itself forms the wester barrier of Tampa Bay and separates much of the Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. On this peninsula there are any number of towns and small cities, mostly populated by retirees and vacation homes. These three cities have been highlighted from this group for a series of reasons. Firstly, these three cities form a triangle on the peninsula, with St Petersburg existing on the Tampa Bay coast to the south-east of the peninsula, Treasure Island on the Gulf coast on the south-west edge of the peninsula and Clearwater forming the north-west corner on the Gulf Coast. Secondly, all three cities are home to an extraordinary collection of resorts and hotels that stretch the length of their respective coastlines. Thirdly, and most importantly for this report, all three cities will play host to a series of delegate events and parties.

 

St Petersburg is the largest of these three cities. St Pete, as it is known, is largely residential with the exception of the downtown area and the area around Tropicana Field, which is going to be a venue for the convention. Central St is the main commercial district and runs east-west across the city to Tampa Bay. The downtown area itself is relatively self contained, it literally just springs up a few blocks from the coast, and is separated from the overwhelmingly working-class neighborhoods that exist to the north, south and west of the downtown core. For reference, the streets run north to south while the avenues run east to west.

 

The downtown area begins once you cross 16th St South and begins with a series of trendy shops along Central Ave, this gives way to the business district which begins immediately after Martin Luther King St South. Downtown itself is typified by a large commercial and office district that is home to a BB&T office, on 4th St South and Central Ave, St Pete Times (which owns the naming rights for the convention venue), on 5th St South and 1st Ave South, Wells Fargo, on 2nd St North and 2nd Ave North-South, and the St Pete College Downtown Campus, on 2nd Ave North and 3rd St North (security office is based out of parking garage on 2nd Ave North ). The resort, harbour and tourist district runs along the bayshore, going north-south, down Bayshore Dr and Beach Dr, which is west of Bayshore and also the home of a host committee member. Events will be held at the St Petersburg Museum of Art, the Dali Museum and Al Lang Field (the St Louis Cardinals Spring Training Complex). The main transportation hub and public space in downtown is Williams Park on 4th St North and 2nd Ave North. First Ave South is the primary traffic artery into the city, one way going from west to east and coming from the residential area of St Pete, and 1st ave North is the main traffic artery out of the downtown area, going from west to east and into the residential area. Police are primarily based in the residential areas west of downtown, even though they are present in downtown they are relatively non-visible. In the residential areas, which are relatively low-income neighborhoods, the police are a lot more present. In downtown the police tend to focus on eliminating the presence of the homeless and traffic enforcement. Tropicana Field, a large sports stadium complex that will play host to events during the convention is at 16th St S and 1st Ave S, a little outside of downtown and bordering a couple distinct residential neighborhoods.

 

Clearwater is an area of interest primarily due to the high concentration of luxury resorts and vacation homes that exist on a small cluster of islands in the Gulf of Mexico. The city itself is set back from the coastline by a few city blocks, mostly vacation homes and smaller hotels. The major route from Clearwater to Tampa is Gulf to Bay Blvd, a small road that goes over one of the longest bridges in the United States, as it passes over the norther corner of Tampa Bay. Route 60, Chestnut St if you are in Clearwater, runs to a series of island beach resorts that are west of Clearwater, this is also a primary delegate housing spot. Gulf Blvd is the only major road that runs between these island and they stretch all the way from Clearwater to Treasure Island, almost 20 miles to the south. The downtown core of Clearwater is relatively small, maybe 6 blocks total, and run primarily along Cleveland St. Outside of this concentrated downtown area Clearwater is mostly residential with a resort district on the western edge of the town.

 

The interesting thing about Clearwater is, besides its existence as a high-class resort town, it is also the “spiritual home” of the “Church” of Scientology and home of the largest single “Church” in the “Church of Scientology. The first Scientologists came to the area in 1975 and purchased the Fort Harrison and Clearwater Bank Building, on the corner of Cleveland St and Fort Harrison Ave. Currently there exists as many as a dozen buildings owned by the “Church” of Scientology, who employs around 1200 staff and entertains as many as 2000 visitors a week in the city. There are an estimated 12000 Scientologists in the Clearwater area, and they even drive around town in vans, with bullhorns attached to the top, trying to recruit people. The movement of the Scientologists to Clearwater marked the beginning of its existence as a resort town, it also marked a vast increase in policing, as well as the introduction of a sterile, blank, “reconstructed” feel to the entirety of the downtown area. Information, and virtual tours of some of the buildings, can be found on their website scientology.fso.org (FSO stands for the Flag Service Organization, a Scientology front organization that officially owns the buildings).

 

Treasure Island is also going to be a major delegate party and housing spot. Twenty miles south of Clearwater and 9 miles west of St Petersburg, Treasure Island is considered to be a resort town that caters to the middle-class traveler. The resorts and hotels are not quiet as fancy as the ones in Clearwater and St Pete, the “attractions” are largely framed around young families, there are a lot more bars on the main strip and so on. Treasure Island, like the name implies, is on an island directly off the Florida coast, along Central Ave, the same Central Ave that runs through the middle of St Pete. The main roads are Central Ave, which runs all the way from St Pete, which is to the east, and Gulf Blvd, which runs down this series of islands. Treasure Island is the most southern, wester and isolated area of convention activity.

 

 

Cops, Pigs, Murderers

To begin to analyze the operations of the Tampa PD we need to first set forward a series of terms and frameworks. Firstly, we always already need to acknowledge that there is an irreducible gap, a chasm between the conceptual baseline of Tampa policing, which will be the baseline for all convention security operations planning, and the shifting terrain generated by policing on the ground, which is always conceived of as an artificial logistical coherence of particular actions taken in particular times and spaces. Secondly, this gap points to the tactical impossibility of total policing, the actual totality of the operation of policing. Policing is the attempt to operate the conceptual content of the state, this conceptual totality of law, which exists to the degree that it is projected across the entirety of time and space. This total operation, and the coherence of this operation as a total unity, always comes into contact with a dual impossibility.

 

Firstly, there is a numerical impossibility; the total operation of policing literally requires the total deployment of the operation of conceptual “law” into all time and space, yet numerically, this is impossible without eliminating the division between police and the terrain of action. In other words, to the degree that the operation of law were total policing would be irrelevant, the terrain would always be constructed through this totality of policing, eliminating the separation of the police from the terrain of action itself. Practically, this means that the police always operate with a numerical limitation; to the degree that police exist as the embodiment of the totality of law, and to the degree that this can be separated from the terrain of action itself, then policing can never be numerically total. If all the police in a given space were to be organized in such a way as to be able to attempt a total operation of law, this would always occur within a spatially limited area. Tampa is a city of 343,890 people, spread across an area of 116 square miles, which is covered by a total of 973 police, which work on three shifts. This disjunction between the totality of “coverage” and the totality of space generates the operations of policing within the framework of projection and deterrence, that there is always an attempt to project force spatially, and that this projection is aided by advanced communications, transportation and operations of deterrence; but also that this projection is, as such, always moving and always partial, it can never exist as a total force of static occupation.

 

Secondly, policing is always the attempt to materially define time and space, meaning it is the attempt to construct space, or terrain, as static and coherent across time and space. This means nothing less than the attempt to end the possibility of action in any particular time and space; to the degree that actions occur these actions generate localized and particular effects, constructing space in particular ways at particular times and spaces. Yet, policing always operates as a deployment, as a deployment of a conceptually unified logistics of action in time and space. Not only does this existence of policing as a series of actions conceptualized as policing mean that the totality of the operations of the state materially, as a total coherence, always fails but also that the coherence of the operation itself is always in crisis. This is a common tactical insight, coming from the collapse of the clockwork armies in the fluidity of Napoleonic operations, but one that has profound impact on the conceptualization of policing, an impact that will lead to the generation of concepts like Focus on Four, the basic operation philosophy of Tampa PD. To the degree that policing is carried out through actions, and to the degree that, as such, this operation can never be total or coherent in any material sense, policing is conceived of, not as the deployment into a static space, but as the fluid deployment of shifting force allocations into a shifting terrain. In other words, the attempt to operate policing across time and space, as total and coherent, is always both in crisis and generating its own crisis. Far from being able to look at policing as a static structure that operates concepts in some direct way, we need to begin to look at policing as an attempt to contain this crisis through an operational capacity to project across time and space. In this sense policing always operates as a paradox, it only operates to the degree that it attempt to operate totally, yet the very operational deployment of policing makes this totality impossible materially. In other words, there is a capacity to contain this crisis, a capacity to maintain the semblance of a material coherence of operations, but this capacity can be exceeded and this coherence can rupture.

 

In the attempt to deal with this impossibility, with this crisis inherent in operations, there have been numerous attempts to amplify this capacity to project across time and space, and contain crisis, through a paradoxical attempt to make policing more fluid and mobile. We already spoke of the role of communications and transportation in this attempted projection; but in the attempt to be able to operate policing in moments the attempt has been to more completely reflect the fluidity of the terrain of action in operations themselves. This shift surrounds two operational shifts that are deployed in the operational organization of the Tampa PD; swarming and topsight (both concepts developed primarily by the RAND Corporation). Topsight is the attempt to form a total view of the terrain of actions, of the shifts and fluxes of space itself. Within the operations of the US military since Vietnam this has taken the form of increasing communications capacity, to filter “real time” information back to command elements, surveillance capacity, the use of tiered surveillance composed of the interplay of satellites and surveillance aircraft, and the increased capacity of communications, or an amplification of the ability to distribute information back to soldiers in a battlespace. This attempt to construct total topsight immediately falls into a paradox; the attempt is to limit the “distance”, spatial and temporal distance, between the command element and the particular combat scenarios that construct the battlespace. But, to the degree that this progresses towards totality there is a choice to be made; collapse into the incoherence of the flows of information and the effects that this information, in an unfiltered form, has on the actions taken in conflict or reestablish the distance of command, the distance of the interpretation of this data and the distance of the redistribution of this conceptualized data back to the battlespace itself. The second operational shift is a shift from force concentration to force dispersal, or the formation of the logic of swarming. This is the attempt to maximize projection, but this attempt always comes into contact with the problem of the dispersal of force. In asymmetric conflict this sort of dispersal occurs to the degree that the battlefield becomes illegible, to the degree that points of conflict are eliminated in a total possibility of conflict with an invisible “enemy”; the outcome of this was witnessed in Vietnam and, more recently, in current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, force dispersion reaches a point in which the individual operational units become ineffective in mobilizing force. Swarming is based on the attempt to use force dispersion to amplify conflict, but in such a way as this dispersion forms an organized constellation of units, units that are networked through communications, and are able to call in support and “swarm”/converge on a target, but also units that maintain a certain operational autonomy; spreading out across the largest space possible while being able to converge in particular times and spaces. Again, there is a compromise being made in the attempt to maintain a coherence of operations; force can be dispersed, and units can be operationally autonomous, but only to the degree that this does not negate the possibility of operational coherence.

 

The Focus on Four approach taken by the Tampa PD is an attempt to utilize this projection and fluidity to its maximum effect in the particular space of Tampa itself; it is the attempt to form a total projection and total operation in all time and space defined by being within the conceptual limits of Tampa proper. The approach itself, which is not unlike that of the NYPD under Guilliani, is an attempt to fuse the use of swarming and topsight with “zero tolerance” policing and focuses on four areas of operational shift from traditional policing models; the “redistribution of tactical resources”, “intelligence-led policing” and “proactive and preventative policing’, to use their language (7)1. We would like to look at each of these moves separately.

 

Redistribution of Tactical Resources” (11)

At the advent of Focus on Four the Tampa police was a highly centralized operation, concentrating resources at police headquarters in the middle of downtown, and thus away from residential neighborhoods, and thus concentrations of actions. This required a certain removal in approach; there were response time issues, coverage gaps, an ossification in operations that made the operational models obsolete, immediately, at the point of deployment, and a removal from the collection of “real time” data . To combat this there was a large-scale restructuring of the Tampa PD and its distribution of tactical and operational resources. The first move was the subdivision of the Tampa police into three primary operational areas; each with a certain level of organizational and operational autonomy. Secondly, these new districts were allocated a certain amount of newly decentralized resources, which required a top-to-bottom organizational restructuring of the force division within the department; this largely came in the form of detective units, “community liaison units, and undercover narcotics and “crime pattern” units that would be combined into the now ubiquitous undercover “Rapid Offender Control” units (or ROCs). This shift away from centralized, static forces, into more decentralized, hidden and fluid forces, was combined with the institution of an operational philosophy based on swarming tactics; dispersing some marked, and some undercover, units out into space to project as far as possible while maintaining the capacity to converge at points through the use of communications and transportation, or the use of a certain speed of operations. This shift from a frontal and centralized to a decentralized and dispersed force based in swarming tactics and force dispersion, was coupled with a concept of total presence. This presence was fostered on two levels. The first level is the elimination of organization appearance; the heavy use of undercovers eliminates the visible, frontal, aspects of policing, while still maintaining the use of force and arrest, generating a sense of the ever-possible presence of policing coupled with material non-appearance (a tactic used by every secret police unit). The physical concentrations of force are eliminated but the threat of operation persists, generating a terrain in which all policing emerges as if from a fog; it deploys into space but from a non-apparent position, from invisibility and dispersal. This removal of apparent force concentrations from the streets threatens to fall into one of two opposite “traps”; it can either fail to operate at all, fail to concentrate force, losing its aesthetic and operational capacity, and thus disappearing, or it can fall into terrorism, the spectre of random people running out of an unmarked car, kidnapping someone and driving away, the terror of the secret police (and in talking to some people in Tampa, this does occur, often). To avoid these “traps” this disappearance/total possibility of presence an actuality of total presence needs to be established; this is attempted through “community liaison” units which are both outreach units (building the “community” as an intelligence source) as well as the units that manage “contacts” (snitches).

 

Intelligence Led Policing” (11)

While we can easily see that the decentralization of tactical and operational resources coupled with the use of force dispersal and undercovers is an attempt to amplify spatial projection, or foster the aesthetics of the possibility of total projection (the feeling that without being able to identify the limits of policing visually we must assume that we can always be “caught”), is an attempt to amplify spatial projection to the, impossible, point of totality, “intelligence led policing” is an attempt to project policing across time. The approach breaks down to an attempt to generate a statistical topsight, or total view, through the measuring, indexing and mapping of data in “real time”. This is nothing short of attempting the temporally impossible, to join the conceptual measurement of the “past” (a measurement that is always occurring in a present) and the present-future of “intelligence” (intelligence is always an attempt to understand some sort of “constancy” of moments in the present with possibilities in the hypothetical “future”). This odd sort of operation, which assumes a complete linear constancy of the past/present/future (as if no actions have effects and terrains of action are completely static and teleological), is carried out by a “Crime Analysis Unit” which generates daily reports of crime statistics, which are mapped spatially, and is meant to determine “when, how and where crimes were being committed and who the likely offenders were”. In other words, the attempt is to map data, combine this with the locations of those that were “convicted” of similar acts in a prior moment, and then make the assumption that those that have carried out other actions at other moments, actions that are considered to have a conceptual commonality with more recent actions, are the likely “offenders” (of course submitting these people to surveillance, questioning, and potentially detention).

 

Proactive and Preventative Policing” (12)

While “intelligence led policing” exists on an operational level of apprehension this matrix of projection, which tends toward the mobilization of secret police terror, becomes completed with the use of deterrence. Deterrence is always an odd sort of concept, it is meant to prevent a hypothetical future that has not occurred. In other words, deterrence only operates to the degree that in a present moment there is an attempt to prevent the possibilities of the future; yet, because it is impossible to actually project forward in time, this operation always already occurs in a present, with the attempt to prevent that which has not occurred, leading to operations carried out due to the hypothetical, conceptual, projections of possible contingencies. We see this in the Weed and Seed program, whole neighborhoods becomes inundated with police, undercover stop and search squads, and cameras in the attempt to prevent something from possibly occurring; but, within this logic any neighborhood could be designated Weed and Seed, there is no basis for a differentiation based in events that have not occurred. This operational attempt occurs on a series of levels. The first level of operations is the presence/absence of the Rapid Offender Control units, the undercover units that literally saturate the city. It is not just that these are undercover units; they are specifically benign looking undercover units, cars with regular license plates and relatively “normal” looking people (some female-bodied undercovers can only be described as Sarah Palin-esque). This is combined with a second level of intense public surveillance. Tampa was the first city to try out “facial-recognition” cameras, first utilized in the Ybor City area (these were removed after a series of ACLU lawsuits), and has an extensive public camera network. Contrary to the usual use of public cameras as a deterrent based on visibility (with many having flashing lights attached) these cameras are almost always hidden, but the presence of them is “public knowledge”; there are news articles about how they are going to install hundreds of cameras before the convention, there is even a link through which you can watch the cameras yourself, just to get a feeling of what distance they cover. These operations are combined with the conceptual designation of certain areas as “Offender Control Zones”, areas that have been statistically determined to be sites of possible future “crime”. These zones become saturated with these undercover units, cameras and the public manifestations of this presence, largely through the the use of signs threatening jail time for minor “offenses” (like skateboarding and trespass) and the “buzz”, the “social” distribution of information, generated by policing operations.

 

What this tactical shift generates is a feeling that coverage could be anywhere, combining the invisibility and projection of guerrilla tactics with policing. What this constructs is a policing of total deterrence. Their tactics, ranging from the live feeds to the cameras (allowing you to see the extension of the surveillance) to the heavy use of undercover cars, to the signs warning of heavy penalties for minor offenses, zero tolerance approaches and heavy sentences generates a sense of terror, where you know that you could face jail for something as simple as urban exploring but you will never know where enforcement will emanate from. This is policing through terrain, an odd and paradoxical form of asymmetric symmetric policing where the terrain of policing seems everywhere but that is because it is no where. Now, this total metaphorical projection across time and space does require actual enforcement, or at least the image of enforcement, and this is the role of the show of force, around Occupy Tampa for example, where the new armored crowd control tank is being driven out to minor demonstrations, where people are brutalized and arrested for sitting on the sidewalk, where fences and checkpoints are erected around community events, making them into self-contained policed zones. This is also done through media outreach and rhetoric, the announcement of absurd amounts of cameras to be bought for the convention, the talk of using drones for surveillance, the buying of armored vehicles, the open discussion of how many cops they will be bringing in and their training, etc.

 

This is all meant to deal with the initial short coming of this approach, in the absence of physicalized presence it is possible to forget that they are there without attacks and enforcement, all of which are “alienating”. In this they are taking on a certain aspect of the operations of the guerilla, eliminating physical presence while still carrying out strikes, generating a sense that the battlefield is everywhere. Yet, on another level they cannot abandon physical presenter entirely. If they were to completely remove themselves from the street then the sense could be generated that they actually are absent, that the city becomes an open space outside of the arbitrary operations of policing. In this context their operations fall into a certain concept of state terrorism, much as we saw from the Stasi, the intelligence collection becomes covert but total, the strikes seem to come from no where, hitting arbitrary targets, operating without projection but with impunity.

 

Now, this analysis says little about how they “will” operate during the convention. In convention security, and in the construction of the patchwork policing operations that often accompany this sort of mobilization, there is always a large amount of modification that occurs. Firstly, units need to be integrated into this sort of structure, they need to be brought in from “outside” and trained in crowd control. Secondly, this approach implies a large amount of autonomy on the part of these dispersed units while crowd control requires a large amount of organizational coherence. What results is an attempt to integrate unfamiliar units into a highly centralized and organized operation that large compromises operational autonomy and this shift from operational autonomy in “normal” operations to the centralization and coordination of crowd control operations is widely acknowledged in both police literature and the US Army Counter-Insurgency Manual (written by General David Patraeus). In the context of this report this means that we will see a large operational shift on the part of the Tampa police, but this structure will still operate as a baseline. We are projecting an operational framework largely like the FTAA in Miami, the use of highly concentrated forces around key points of interest, the use of a large security perimeter to control space and the utilization of pre-action raids and snatch-squads (patrolling the streets) to disrupt radical organization.

1All citations are from the 2010 Tampa Police Annual Report, http://www.tampagov.net/dept_police/Files/publications/FocusOnFour10print.pdf

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