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New app helps TPD keep Gasparilla runners safe | Crime

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New app helps TPD keep Gasparilla runners safe

Tampa, Florida -- Marathon runner Heidi Gonzmart vividly remembers the moment she was told to stop running the last Boston Marathon.

"A policeman drove up to me on a motorcycle and said your marathon is over," said Gonzmart. "I was 25 miles in, 1.2 miles from the finish line."

Halfway through the race she had heard there was an accident at the finish line but she didn't realize the magnitude of what happened.

"I just crossed the halfway point and all of a sudden several police cars were driving through the race route, which never happened, cars are not allowed through there. It was terrifying. I would never think running a marathon would put me in danger."

Her husband, Casey Gonzmart, was supposed to be at the finish line to meet her, but since they stopped her a mile away from there, she had to find some other way to meet him.

"I didn't have my phone and I didn't know my way around since so many runners like me don't know the Boston area," she says.  

Finally, through friends, she reached her husband and was relieved he was safe and was a block away from the finish line when the bombs had gone off.

"Thank goodness his friend convinced him to stay and have one more drink before my husband Casey wanted to come over to the finish line. It could have been a much different outcome. It was terrifying. I shook the whole plane ride home and when we landed and for the next few days at work." 

Despite her week of nerves, she carries a fearless attitude. She ran the Chicago marathon last October, only months after Boston, and her children are running the Gasparilla Half Marathon this Sunday. 

"I know the police will be there for anything that could go wrong and I really trust them; I really trust that it will be safe." 

Tampa Police Major Mike Baumaister said their department has talked with Massachusetts State Police after the Boston bombings. His chief said the events in Boston has changed the landscape of large scale events' security. 

"At the races this weekend, you will see plenty of officers out there. Everywhere you look there will be an officer,"  said Major Mike Baumaister. 

Police will be using the cameras from the Republican National Convention along the race route. They will have them strategically placed along with a Sky Watch elevated platform from Pinellas County. An officer and cameras will be placed several stories up on the platform to give an aerial view.

"We need the public's help too. That's why we're working to educate the public to help keep us informed," said Major Baumaister. 

The department has a new cell phone app called "Tampa Police Department" and you can take a picture of something you find suspicious and send it in an app report to TPD. Then they can track where the picture was taken. You have to give your contact information for them to locate where the picture was taken. If you want your tip to remain anonymous you can, but police cannot track where the picture was taken. In that case, you would have to include a text that has the location.

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