City of Orlando and OPD passed Trump rally test

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump officially announced he was running for reelection at the Amway Center in downtown Orlando, in an event that was attended by thousands of supporters and protesters.

And everything, for the most part, went fine.

I had doubts. With the massive construction projects taking place around the Amway Center like Ultimate I4 and the Magic entertainment complex, there was not a lot of easily feasible space, but the city used the lot where the complex will go up as a fairgrounds of sorts, where visitors would get in line to attend the rally.

Then there was public safety. With thousands of Donald Trump supporters and protesters in such an emotionally charged environment, how do you ensure the safety of everyone involved?

A coalition of law enforcement officers. That’s how.

Orlando Police, Orange County Sheriff’s office, and a number of other agencies were everywhere. They were on foot, in cars, in front of barricades, and on horseback. When tempers flared, they put themselves between the two sides involved and made sure everyone made it home safe. That’s not easy.

I drove into downtown Orlando before doing my announcement analysis on News 13. “Parking is going to be a nightmare” I thought. Then I found free street parking (after meter hours), a block from the station. I walked up and down the blocks and visited both the rally and the protest. Everyone was having a great time, and that was despite storms that had soaked everyone a short time before.

There was a lot of litter after the rally, but that clean up will reportedly be paid by the Trump campaign, not the taxpayers.

Overall, it was a win.

But, it’s also proof that Orlando can handle the big events. It can handle the large emotional street crowds, it can mobilize public safety assets to keep attendees safe, and it can put the pieces together logistically to make big events work.

We deserve to host a Super Bowl.

OPD officers patrolled in squads around the Amway Center

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