Super Bowl LIII Massive Security Ops 2 Years in the Making
Federal authorities set up no-fly and no-drone zones to secure the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta ahead of Sunday’s big game.
ATLANTA — Law enforcement officers from local, state and federal agencies, including the nation’s Homeland Security secretary, gathered this week to discuss the multifaceted security operations underway for Sunday’s Super Bowl duel between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.
The epicenter of the security effort is a joint operation hub where about 65 law enforcement agencies, utility companies and first responders are monitoring traffic and events with the help of a network of about 10,000 cameras, Carlos Campos, a spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department, said at the press conference on Wednesday.
“We are ready for anything from a drunk and disorderly individual all the way up to a mass-casualty incident,” Campos said.
Officials said it took two years to game-plan security operations ahead of Super Bowl LIII, which is expected to attract more than 1 million visitors to Atlanta throughout the 10 days leading up to the big game.
More than 5,000 law enforcement employees — and about 180 canines — will be in place to increase security inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the other venues that are catering to the Super Bowl throngs.
A fleet of six United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Blackhawk helicopters are onsite to support the massive, multiagency security operation. The Blackhawks are joined by three smaller A-Stars as part of a quick reaction force to assess incidents on the ground and provide critical aerial surveillance.
The main mission for the fleet of helicopters is to enforce a no-fly zone in effect around the Super Bowl campus, which encompasses about a 30-mile diameter around the stadium and goes from the surface up to 18,000 feet. F-16 fighter jets will also patrol the sky as part of the security operation.
A temporary flight restriction prohibiting drone activity will be in place throughout the weekend around the stadium, NFL Chief Security Officer Cathy Lanier said at the press conference.
“We want everyone to come and have an awesome time and see this amazing venue but we also want you to leave your drones at home,” said Lanier.
A hard security perimeter will surround the stadium and the Georgia World Congress Center where numerous official NFL events will take place. Physical security measures include about seven miles of fencing that ring the stadium. Every arriving truck receives an X-ray inspection by U.S. CBP officers.
“The challenge is you’re going to have everyone in one space. And so you really have to ensure that the perimeter is locked down,” Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said. “So for the outer perimeter to prevent an attack by vehicle you’ll see sanitation trucks, cement barriers, water filled barricades, anything that will stop a vehicle from crashing into the crowd.”
DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said there is no known threat against the Super Bowl, but its high-profile status as one of the world’s largest sporting events automatically makes it a potential target.
More than 600 employees from the DHS will be protecting the city, she said. U.S. Secret Service officers and members of the Coast Guard have also been deployed, Nielsen said.
“We’ve conducted more than 100 different physical and cybersecurity assessments and conducted outreach activities … so that any vulnerabilities can be addressed before they are exploited,” Nielsen said. “Part of what we bring to bear is our expertise in the tactics and techniques that potential adversaries could bring against events such as these in crowded places.”
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