In case you’ve been living under a rock, Super Bowl 52 is this Sunday. That means security is going to be beefed up big time in and around U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.
According to ABC News, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have spent the better part of two years preparing for the big game, which has been designated a level one National Special Security Event. The Minnesota Police Department is the lead agency, but some 1,700 federal officials will support state and local law enforcement agencies in Minneapolis.
The Minnesota National Guard has been activated, and more than 60 agencies from around the state are sending officers. Additionally, a trained volunteer force of 10,000 people will be on hand monitoring for any suspicious activity.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations will be overseeing the skies in Black Hawk helicopters, ready to neutralize any aircraft that gets too close to U.S. Bank Stadium during the super bowl.
“We want to keep the American people safe. We want the viewers to enjoy the day, relax and have the state of mind that someone’s out there watching for potential targets,” Michael Fuller, an air interdiction agent with U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations, told ABC News.
Alex Khu, the special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Minnesota and the federal coordinator for Super Bowl 52, said motion detectors, metal detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs, mobile command centers and human trafficking and counterfeit merchandise teams will be on site, in addition to high-res security cameras.
“Our efforts are to make sure that it’s a warm and inviting atmosphere. But make no mistake about it — there are tons of watchful eyes from the law enforcement and public safety sectors,” Khu said.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told reporters that, “as of today, there is no specific credible threat,” before adding that she would “continue to monitor.”
Cathy Lanier, the Senior Vice President of Security for the NFL—and former Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia—said a secure perimeter consisting of chain-link fencing and concrete barriers would surround U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.
“Building out a secure perimeter took a little creativity,” Lanier said, adding that security screening would be “significantly heightened” and begin at 1 p.m. CT, which is over four hours before kickoff.
“We have planned for this to ensure that nothing happens,” said Joe Rivers, an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis Division. “But if something does happen, some kind of mass casualty incident or terrorism event, then there is a huge shift built into the program to continue to support the event but to transition to crisis response and investigation.”
The FBI will also be in charge of credentialing the thousands of public safety officers and volunteers who require different levels of access to Super Bowl venues.
“We are facilitating the name checks and records checks for all the folks who are going to get credentialed,” Rivers said. “That means volunteers, food vendors, private security people—the number of individuals could exceed 30,000. That’s a huge commitment from our office.”
Khu, who has worked closely with the FBI and MPD through this whole process, said Super Bowl 52 represents the largest deployment of federal assets to any Super Bowl ever.
“Coordination at all levels is key,” Khu said. “There are so many moving pieces. No one agency can do this alone.”
Rick Thornton, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis Division, told ABC News his agency’s intelligence operations center would be the “nerve center” of security at Super Bowl 52.
“The Super Bowl is about planning, preparation and partnerships,” Thornton said. “We’ve planned, we’ve trained. It’s game time for us. We are ready.”
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