Photo/Story Gallery 2003

FHP Assists at Free Trade Summit

Troopers from across the state attend a briefing of the FTAA Summit detail in Miami.Ever since Governor Bush announced that the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Summit would be held in Miami this year, the Florida Highway Patrol–along with local law enforcement–spent time and energy gearing up for this highly charged international event. With the FTAA Summit came a number of dignitaries and representatives, hordes of media, and, because of the controversial nature of the conference, increased traffic and thousands of protestors, too.

Duty Officer Dawn Valdes looks over the setup of the detail dispatch center making sure all items have been accounted for.Pictured left, Troopers from across the state attend a briefing of the FTAA Summit detail in Miami and right, Duty Officer Dawn Valdes looks over the setup of the detail dispatch center making sure all items have been accounted for.

While some FHP members were being trained in preparation of the Summit, others were hard at work setting up a mini-dispatch center for the week-long conference. To prevent placing extra burden on the main communications center in Miami, it was determined that a separate dispatch center should be created for this event. Captain Steve Williams and Lt. Russ Bass spent several months planning the center and three long days physically setting it up for use during the Summit. Duty Officer Supervisor, Dawn Valdes, helped with the operational layout and the testing of CAD equipment and radios.

Colonel Knight speaks at the FTAA briefing.To assist with the massive influx of people, FHP was asked by the Miami Police Department to provide additional law enforcement support. In response, FHP dedicated 324 sworn personnel from all across the state to help with this detail, staffing a total of 70 traffic posts in the downtown Miami area, as well as nine duty officers responsible for manning the newly created dispatch center.

Pictured left, Colonel Chris Knight speaks at the FTAA briefing.

FHP’s top priority during the Summit was to ensure public safety–keeping all highways, as well as secondary roadways in the venue area, clear and free of protestor activity. In addition, FHP provided thirty motorcycle units to provide rapid response to deal with any protestors attempting to impede the flow of traffic on the interstates and to assist with requests for the escort of dignitaries to and from the venue site. To help local police with crowd control, FHP provided three Mobile Field Forces, each manned with 45 members, to monitor traffic around the venue in the event of any violent protests by demonstrators. Finally, an FHP plane provided valuable surveillance and helped monitor traffic in the area. Thanks to all FHP members who worked long, hard hours to ensure public safety at this important event!