The RNC: 1 year later - FOX 13 News

The RNC: 1 year later

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Can you believe it's been a year since downtown Tampa was completely made over, and thousands of politicians flooded this area?

Many are still wondering whether or not it benefited our city, and really, it looks like a little of both.

First and foremost, it put Tampa in the international spotlight during the Republican National Convention. It also taught city officials that Tampa can handle a major event and host just about anything.

"When people think about Florida now, they don't just think of Miami or Orlando," Mayor Bob Buckhorn told FOX 13 Tuesday morning. "They think about Tampa as well. We couldn't have bought that kind of exposure -- particularly in the fact that in the face of a hurricane, we hosted the second-most viewed TV event in the world and did it better than anybody had."

Economically, city officials say we did alright. We did spend a lot of money, about $214 million, according to the Tampa Bay Host Committee.

But the event also brought in a lot. The same study showed total economic impact was more than $400 million, and some areas are still seeing some of the benefits.

"Economic development is a long-term process," Buckhorn said. "No one is going to move their business here and say I'm doing so because you hosted the RNC. But you can bet when we have those conversations, they know who we are. They watched it on television. They're aware of it. Their CEO may have been here."

More people are coming back to visit the area - and several other big events and conventions are now being booked.

However, one downside was some local businesses say they struggled, especially the ones right in downtown. They say they were forced to pretty much shut down for an entire week, which hurt.

For law enforcement, it couldn't have gone any better. There were very few incidents where someone was taken into custody.

Dozens of bikes were bought, built and designed for law enforcement during the RNC.

They're still being used today, and you can sometimes see police cruising around in your neighborhood.

"It's all about being accessible," said Thomas Downes, a bike training specialist with Tampa Police. "You have an opportunity to be out there and be seen and meet people."

Protesters and RNC visitors saw the bikes used first-hand for crowd control and police protection. Now - a year later - they are vital in our community. Officers can pedal on patrol in tough to reach areas like parking garages and parks.

"We had an incident where there was a kid that ran away, and we were able to get a few bikes in the apartment complex," Downes said. "He was a fast kid that probably would have outrun most officers on foot, but it was fairly easy to corral him on bikes."

Police say they are also finding that more and more people are reporting crimes and giving more information about crimes - because they feel more comfortable with a bike officer.

"You have a chance to talk, you have a chance to meet and pass out cards," Downes said.

Downes said they're helping keep our city much safer.

Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said it went so well, the department is creating an RNC booklet for the next city that hosts, so they can pass along some good advice on policing it.

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