By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Thursday night, four teams will move one step closer to the Final Four in Minneapolis.

Sweet Sixteen matchups start on WCCO at 6 p.m. By the end of this weekend, the field will be whittled down to four. The biggest games of the college basketball year start in just eight days at U.S. Bank Stadium.

In the meantime, Minneapolis is in the final push to get ready. Minnesota’s law enforcement community has been working on security for the Final Four for more than a year now. They want people to know they are ready to show the world our city is safe, fun and friendly.

Thirty different law enforcement agencies are working together to make sure the people who attended the Final Four and all the events surrounding it are safe. There will be a very visible presence of uniformed officers walking the beat both day and night.

All this security will cost an estimated $1.3 million, which is paid for with funding from the Minneapolis Local Organizing Committee.

Minnesota residents will be asked to help.

“We are encouraging our community members that if they should see something suspicious to say something,” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said.

A huge private-public partnership will also provide additional protection. Downtown Improvement District Ambassadors will also be on hand to give directions to visitors as well as serve as extra eyes and ears.

“We will work extensively with street outreach teams from St. Stephens, YouthLink coordinating board, MADDADS, A Mother’s Love and many more for safety for everyone downtown,” Downtown Improvement District’s Shane Zahn said.

Security inside many downtown businesses are also working together.

“It’s called the Shield Program; it’s all the security agencies and different security from different buildings come together to our center called CIAC, which is Criminal Information and Analysis Center,” Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson said.

Live cameras throughout downtown Minneapolis will help law enforcement watch crowds and many of the buildings downtown are also linked to provide safety.

“We have over 60 buildings on a common radio link channel with law enforcement. This is called our radio link program. We are also connected to several of the bars at night through radio comps as well,” Zahn said.

Reg Chapman

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