MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A comprehensive safety plan developed over the last two years for Super Bowl LII will be put to the test in the weeks to come.
“We have plans in place to deal with anything you can think of,” Minneapolis Police Commander Scott Gerlicher said.
The lead agency, Minneapolis Police, has worked closely with the NFL. State and federal partners are part of the overall plan to keep people safe during the 10-day stretch of events.
The Bold North’s cold climate coupled with the event being in a downtown area makes Super Bowl LII unique.
“It’s presented quite a challenge. Even the NFL will tell you this is the most complex Super Bowl they’ve ever had to plan,” Gerlicher said.
The big game is a SEAR 1 event: the highest level of risk for a special event. Gerlicher with Minneapolis Police is in charge of whole operation.
“What people can really expect to see is a strong visible law enforcement presence, much of what they’ll see will be on the street in the form of foot patrol officers,” Gerlicher said.
Also visible will be a perimeter around U.S. Bank Stadium and Convention Center. Recent national and international incidents forced authorities to develop ways to protect pedestrians.
“We will be putting up additional cement barriers and lane restrictions, and places like Nicollet Mall and other areas where large crowds would be congregating,” Gerlicher said.
Behind the scenes, public safety personnel will go high-tech to keep an eye on the city. It also has the ability to track the thousands of officers pulled in to help from across the state.
And Super Bowl LII has the largest federal response in the game’s history.
“The FBI specifically has a lead role into planning for the security in regards to terrorism, counter terrorism matters, cyber matters, crisis management and incident response plans,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joseph Rivers said.
Rivers is Gerlicher’s federal counterpart. The agency developed a threat assessment. Close to 1,000 additional FBI personnel will be in town to assist during the big game.
“Special agent bomb technicians, SWAT team and tactical experts, weapons of mass destruction and hazmat experts, processing and sampling,” Rivers said.
FBI’s Minneapolis headquarters will house the Intelligence Operations Center. It will share classified data plus information gathered through social media and other sources with a Multi Agency Command Center in Minneapolis. It’s also home to the All Hazards Center. Roughly 100 K-9 partners will be ready to respond to a suspicious package or any call requiring a sweep.
“We also recognize that there is — for all of the planning for all of the prevention for all of the in advance assessments that are completed — there’s always a possibility that we don’t prevent everything, and that there’s maybe a need to react,” Rivers said.
Much of what they are doing and the technology used is kept top secret to not let the wrong people know their hand. The overall goal: let authorities focus on security and allow people to enjoy a safe and fun Super Bowl.
“We really want it to be a positive experience for all of the residents of our area and certainly all of the hundreds of thousands of visitors that will be coming in,” Gerlicher said.
The concrete barriers with fencing outside the stadium will be locked down beginning the Friday before the big game. Other barriers will go in before the 10-days of events begin on Jan. 26.