The Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8 on Super Bowl Sunday, but a lot of behind-the-scenes planning ensured the game happening on the field was the main draw. Although the bulk of these arrangements dealt with security at MetLife Stadium, the entirety of the surveillance extended throughout New York and New Jersey.
Law enforcement prepares for anything
With an entire week of high-profile events leading up to the game, law enforcement readied for an influx of visitors concentrated in one area. Because the Super Bowl was deemed "an event of national significance" by Homeland Security, federal agencies sent assistance to the thousands of officers from New Jersey and New York already working the event.
According to CNN, the FBI sent agents specializing in weapons of mass destruction, while the U.S. Coast Guard patrolled canals and rivers in close proximity to the stadium. Customs and Border Protection officers worked with the TSA to screen people taking Amtrak trains or New Jersey Transit to nearby locations as well as fans entering the stadium. The extra manpower was needed to accommodate strict disaster readiness protocols influenced by recent tragedies, such as the Boston Marathon bombings.
"We're accustomed to large events, and we're prepared to respond to anything that presents itself," said Chief James Waters, commanding officer of the NYPD's Counterterrorism Bureau, as quoted by The Associated Press. "We took a close look at what happened in Boston. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in, so we learned from events around the world."
To head off potential danger, technologically trained individuals monitored thousands of cameras around New York City and MetLife Stadium, watching for suspicious activity or bags left unattended. Bomb-sniffing dogs were employed at the site as well. The Associated Press reported that the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration flew helicopters equipped with radiation-detection tools over the area to identify and map potential bomb threats.
Super protection may become standard procedure
In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, specially trained individuals were called into action. On Jan. 31, after suspicious white powder was reported, a bomb squad and hazardous materials teams investigated sites near MetLife Stadium. Letters containing the unidentified substance, which was later found to be cornstarch, were sent to area hotels and to the office of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, sending up red flags among workers at those sites. The Joint Terrorism Task Force and hazmat teams called to the scene quickly determined that the powder was harmless, even as they await more test results.
While Super Bowl security efforts required a lot of manpower, time and money, the end result was a successful and safe event. This kind of intense training and planning could be applied to all high-profile events, especially those in and around major metropolitan areas such as New York City.
Federal and state organizations are using knowledge gained from studying international events to better prepare their officers for large-scale operations in the future. From TSA agents screening spectators to U.S. helicopters scanning for radiation, this kind of cooperation leads to more expertly trained individuals doing what they do best: keeping us safe.
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