(SANTA CLARA, Calif.) — There will be an increase in security for the Super Bowl this year as the Carolina Panthers prepare to take on the Denver Broncos in the wake of the deadly Paris and San Bernardio attacks.
Federal, state and local authorities, along with the National Football League are coordinating the massive security undertaking, which includes air support, extensive screening and behind-the-scenes technology.
“In light of world events, we are particularly keen to making sure that all the events in the region are safely held and should something happen we are be able to respond quickly,” said Tatum King, the Department of Homeland Security federal coordinator.
The Super Bowl is designated a SEAR (Special Events Assessment Rating) level 1, an event that’s considered of national importance, which requires extensive federal coordination and support.
Dozens of federal agencies are involved in the DHS-coordinated effort including, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Secret Service, Federal Air Marshals, U.S. Marshals, Department of Defense and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The FBI and DHS said they have no information to indicate a specific, credible threat to the game or its surrounding events, according to a Joint Special Event Threat Assessment.
However, authorities are concerned about terrorists’ interest in targeting crowded venues, as well as lone wolf attackers and homegrown extremists.
All people and things will be screened before they can enter Levi’s Stadium as well as the NFL Experience and Super Bowl City venues in downtown San Francisco.
Everything from food to Beyonce’s wardrobe will go through CBP’s large truck screening equipment.
In addition to metal detectors for spectators entering the stadium, officers will scan cargo for contraband such as hazardous materials, explosives, weapons and anything harmful, unusual or suspicious.
Bomb sniffing dogs will be out to search for anything suspicious.
To detect against any biological agent, a network of BioWatch detectors have been deployed warn health officials.
Air and Sea Support
The most vulnerable targets are outside the stadium, where large crowds will gather, according to the joint DHS-FBI assessment, so resources are deployed throughout the region on land, in the air and on the water.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a temporary flight restriction zone during the game in Santa Clara, as well as over the San Francisco venues.
Those restrictions include unmanned aircraft, prompting the FAA to launch a “No Drone Zone” campaign telling spectators to “bring your lucky jersey, bring your face paint, bring your team spirit, but leave your drone at home. Be a responsible pilot. Make the game safe for all of us.”
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will be responsible for providing high-altitude air support, while CBP Air and Marine Operations agents will be in Citations, UH-60 Black Hawks and AS350 A-Stars to concentrate on “low and slow” targets.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard has deployed additional maritime safety and security teams from across the country to help facilitate with its security efforts. The boats are equipped with two 50-caliber machine guns that are mounted at the ready for use in the event of a security breach.
“We’re looking for anything suspicious, anything out of the ordinary, and we ask that the public also look for anything out of the ordinary and report it,” said Lieutenant Junior Grade Colin Weaver, the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Pike.
Training and Drills
The Department of Homeland Security began security planning with local partners in the summer of 2014. Federal agencies and local law enforcement participated in a number of drills to discuss potential threat scenarios and fix any potential gaps in security.
In addition, DHS conducted an active shooter preparedness workshop, which included training private sector participants. The U.S. Secret Service conducted magnetometer training for security personnel.
Since 2014, security advisers conducted nearly 100 site visits and 40 security assessments in the San Francisco Bay and Santa Clara Metropolitan area, said DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, who toured Levi’s Stadium Wednesday.
Authorities will be “utilizing all tools available,” to keep the Super Bowl safe, said King.
FEMA is providing Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) units to provide emergency mobile telecommunications support, in case of a loss of regular communications.
The Secret Service will support open-source social media monitoring and has been assisting with cyber security vulnerability assessments.
DHS launched its communications software — a tool that has been used in past Super Bowls as well- to local, state and federal partners, so that everyone can communicate with the same platform.
In terms of surveillance, DHS would not comment on specifics, but King reiterated that “federal partners are using every tool that’s available.”
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