Tampa to tap into federal funds for RNC insurance policy

The city needs convention insurance. Now we know who's paying for it.

Of that $50 million grant the city has received from the Department of Justice, roughly half of that has been expected to pay for technology and equipment for security, and the other half for paying, feeding and housing the 3,000 law enforcement officials from around the state who will be working with the Tampa Police Department during the convention.

Although he would not give a specific dollar amount, City Attorney Jim Shimberg tells CL he intends to go before the City Council at some point in the near future requesting that they authorize the insurance.

"Their jurisdictions don't want any liability," Shimberg says, referring to the home agencies of those officers.

Such a policy has been the subject of negotiations for a while now, for good reason. The city of Los Angeles has paid over $5 million in lawsuits connected with police abuse and the 2000 Democratic Convention. In New York City after the 2004 RNC, litigation totaled over $8 million.

So it's obviously prudent for Tampa to have an insurance policy. The only question up to now has been who would pay for it.

Another question is how much that policy will be for. In St. Paul for the RNC in 2008, the insurance policy cost $1.2 million, paying up to $10 million in damages.

Of course, that was a unique situation, as the city of St. Paul was able to have the Host Committee pick up the tab. But Tampa is aping Denver, the site of the 2008 DNC, which also bought the insurance policy with part of the $50 million given to them for security by the feds.

Although the city of Tampa has in place most of the security features needed to play host to the Republican National Convention this August, one item that has yet to be settled is an insurance policy.

Lawsuits regarding civil rights abuses conducted by law enforcement have resulted from every recent political convention in the U.S., and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and other city officials are well aware of that fact, as well as the promise made by former Mayor Pam Iorio that taxpayer funds would not be used in any way to bring the event to the Cigar City.

City officials now say they intend to use a portion of the $50 million of federal funds earmarked for security to pay for a police-liability policy.

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