This Sunday, U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis will play host to the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles as they play for the NFL's top prize in Super Bowl LII. Thousands of people are expected to flock to the city to watch one of the biggest games in sports and authorities have been working hard over the last two years to ensure that football fans remain safe and secure.
To do that, dozens of local police departments, and public safety organizations have partnered with the FBI to plan for any contingency, whether that comes from a terrorist attack, or something as mundane as a power outage. Rick Thorton, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Minneapolis Division said events like Superbowl LII are all about planning, preparation and partnerships.
“Each organization brings its unique abilities to the table, but it requires tremendous teamwork and cooperation to pull everything together into a unified whole," Thorton said.
As the lead agency for security at this year's Super Bowl, the Minneapolis Police Department understands they will be under a microscope for the next few days. MPD’s Scott Gerlicher, the overall public safety coordinator for Super Bowl LII said the most important part of their planning was making sure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.
“I think we have done our best to think of just about every contingency, natural or manmade,” said MPD’s Scott Gerlicher, overall public safety coordinator for Super Bowl LII. “The Super Bowl is just a massive operation, and very complicated especially in our area.”
Fans attending the game will be pre-screened at indoor locations, such as the Mall of America, so they don't have to wait outside in the freezing February cold. Establishing a secure perimeter for the Super Bowl was difficult as the U.S. Bank Stadium is located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.
To assist with coverage, more than 2,000 fixed cameras throughout the downtown and neighboring areas are available to officers looking for that may go wrong. About 2,000 officers working the event are equipped with an app that allows them to broadcast any suspicious activity they may spot to the Multi-Agency Command Center where 80 people from all levels of government will operate to monitor safety and security threats.
Thorton says the FBI has also offered other expertise and resources, even taking on the responsibility for credentialing thousands of public safety officers and volunteers who will need access to the venue.
Fans attending the Super Bowl or any of its events can help officers by staying alert. People who spot something suspicious can call 911 or the FBI hotline at 1 (800) CALL-FBI. A website has also been set up by the FBI for witnesses to upload video and photos for any incident that may occur.