Scrutinizing past conventions also should help so officials can see how protesters and crowds behaved.
The most famous disruption was probably in 1968 for the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Scenes of police clashing with protesters on the streets played on TV screens in living rooms across America. Four years later, anti-war demonstrators disrupted the RNC in Miami Beach — the last time a political convention was held in Florida.
Conventions were mostly peaceful until St. Paul. After that event, officials wrote an 82-page report.
"In many respects, Saint Paul city and police officials were successful ... During the four days of the convention, no one was seriously injured and there was limited property damage," wrote a commission tasked with summarizing the event. "But not everything went as planned and not all expectations were met."
The report cites several glitches in St. Paul, which at the time was the smallest city to host a convention, including a security fence erected by the Secret Service that made it difficult for convention participants, law enforcement and others to easily move around the downtown area. It said law enforcement was "taken by surprise" when several hundred anarchists arrived in the city.
Reder said that both Tampa Police and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office — which is the other large law enforcement agency in the region — have longtime veterans overseeing the tactical plans.
Water also can be an obstacle, Reder said. The convention will be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, a building that is backed by a river, which winds through downtown — which means it will be more difficult for officers to push protesters out of the area if needed.
"If a crowd gets out of control, it becomes a danger," he said.
Shimberg said that organizers of parades or marches must sign up with the city to use the route, and are slotted in 90-minute increments. But as of July 6, only three groups have signed up. Shimberg said he's surprised more groups haven't come forward, and doesn't know what the low numbers signify. There's no deadline to sign up for the parade route, but he said there are 28 open slots during the four-day convention.
"We're a little baffled," he said. "I'm not sure if it means that people don't want to go where we want them to go, or if they're just not coming."
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