There is growing concern that Tropical Storm Isaac could put a damper on next week’s Republican National Convention. Officials are currently coming up with backup plans if rain and wind become an issue.
More than 70 thousand delegates, journalists and protesters are expected to converge on Tampa in the next few days. A category 1 storm could mean forced evacuations. Florida’s governor is urging RNC planners to keep a close eye on developments.
If some Florida police officers who are supposed to be patrolling the streets of Tampa are needed for disaster duty in their home communities, the state may have to provide more National Guard troops.
Tampa could begin feeling Isaac’s effect this weekend. The RNC is scheduled to begin Monday.
More than 3,500 officers from 59 law enforcement agencies from around the state are scheduled to come to Tampa to patrol the streets as the convention opens Monday.
About half would come from outside Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa. About 1,700 National Guard troops were already expected to help with patrols.
Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said the number could increase if other law enforcement agencies don't end up sending officers. The storm is forecast to start affecting South Florida on Monday and could reach the Tampa area by Tuesday.
"We're in a situation right now where we don't know what's going to happen," Gee said. "My primary concern right now is that we will lose resources."
Gee said some agencies, especially in South Florida, might decide not to send officers to Tampa if the storm threatens their areas.
"As things change, they might have to prioritize," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.