Saturday, December 17, 2011
Super Bowl security plan unveiled
INDIANAPOLIS -- Helicopters. Street-corner cameras. Undercover police. The security for next year's Super Bowl week may leave some fans looking over their shoulder as they descend on Indianapolis for the big game.
Police will be carrying hand-held video devices and delivery trucks will be scanned like X-rays as tens of thousands of people flood downtown during the 10 days of events leading up to the Feb. 5 game at Lucas Oil Stadium, local and federal officials said Friday.
The security plan also includes four helicopters from the U.S. Department of Customs and Border Protection, more than 80 street-level surveillance cameras, and police officers using hand-held devices equipped with video connected to a new communications center in the city.
A special truck will even scan the inside of delivery vehicles as they enter a secure perimeter around the stadium to look for explosive, radioactive and biological threats, officials said.
"There could be a pocket or two that's not covered but I'm not saying where that would be," said Gary Coons, the city's homeland security chief.
Officials won't just be relying on cameras. More than 100 undercover city and state police officers will patrol downtown streets. Besides watching for trouble, officers will be looking for pickpockets, prostitutes, and ticket and merchandise counterfeiters, Indianapolis Deputy Police Chief Michael Bates said.
But fans likely won't even notice the heavy security, said Robert Holley, the FBI's top official in Indianapolis. He said the FBI is keeping a close watch on intelligence, since it isn't uncommon for terrorist groups to target large events, and about 250 agents and FBI employees will be involved in the Super Bowl.
"There is a lot going on behind the curtain that (people) won't see," he said.
About 3,000 city police officers, firefighters and paramedics will work from the Thursday before the game through Super Bowl Sunday, Public Safety Director Frank Straub said. The FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement officers, Secret Service and Drug Enforcement agents will also be patrolling.
"Our message is that the Super Bowl is something we are taking very seriously," Straub told The Indianapolis Star. "We are committed to ensuring a safe Super Bowl. Not just the game but events leading up to it."
ICE official Gary Hartwig told WRTV that federal officials also are concerned about scams involving fake tickets and merchandise, which officials said plagued the 2010 Super Bowl in Miami.
"It is a threat because 375,000 jobs are lost due to importation of counterfeit merchandise," Hartwig said. "In regards to the Super Bowl, most counterfeit items include things that are licensable by the NFL, things like jerseys and hats."