Big security plans for the big game
Football fans lining up to get into the Super Bowl will see an impressive display of power, strength and protection hours before they enter MetLife Stadium.
A massive security apparatus worthy of the historic Feb. 2 global sports spectacle -- played just across the Hudson River from the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks -- will protect all types of football fanatics from harm, according to local, state and federal law enforcement officials Wednesday.
More than 3,000 private security officers will be at their posts at the East Rutherford home of the Jets and Giants as fans file in, hopefully oblivious to the intricate web of security preparations that began years ago, officials said.
SWAT teams will be stationed in the vicinity and hostage negotiators will wait at the ready if their skills are needed, officials said. The New Jersey State Police, the lead agency in the herculean operation, will have about 700 troopers on duty, said Col. Rick Fuentes, the agency's superintendent.
Even officers who usually sit behind a desk will be pressed into service, Fuentes said.
And if any of the countless security threats that FBI agents have imagined in their planning become reality, agents will be prepared, assured Aaron Ford, the agency's Newark-based special agent in charge, as he ticked off a range of potential calamities.
"Active shooter, bomb threats, and casualties related to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats," Ford said during a news conference at the stadium attended by federal, state, and NFL officials. "We will have every available asset prepared and ready to go for Super Bowl XLVIII."
Security officials said that while preparations leading up to the game are similar to past Super Bowls, the location isn't.
"Nobody at this table has to be reminded in the shadow of the World Trade Center how important this event is to make people feel safe," said Chief Christopher Trucillo of the New Jersey Transit Police as he sat with other security officials at the news conference.
The game will kick off just a few miles from where some of the 9/11 hijackers started their attacks, at Newark Liberty Airport.
Terrorism, either international or domestic, is at the top of a lengthy list of what-could-go-wrong scenarios, and not just at the Super Bowl itself, said William Daly, who oversees the Manhattan office of Control Risks, a global security consulting firm.
"In order to disrupt or taint the event it doesn't mean they need to actually do something at the Super Bowl," Daly said. "Obviously, any incident in or around the metropolitan area -- whether it's affecting mass transit or some other public space -- would probably give them the attention they are looking for."
On game day, airport-style screening outside the stadium will greet fans wanting in. They will be funneled through giant tents in the stadium parking lot dubbed "Welcome Pavilions," said Jeffrey Miller, the NFL's chief security officer.
"We will try to get people through fairly rapidly," Miller said.
Ticket-holders will undergo the same kind of screening -- pat-downs, metal detectors and X-rays -- that airports conduct.
Fans will first pass through a specially built fence designed to form a 300-foot security perimeter around the stadium. Air and water patrols will monitor the skies and nearby rivers. But what fans don't see on Super Bowl Sunday will also keep them safe, Ford said.
"Much of the work we have done will go unnoticed," he said.
A security lockdown begins Jan. 27 for the stadium and the immediate surroundings, Fuentes said.
After that, every vehicle entering the stadium parking lot will be screened and the occupants' credentials checked before they are allowed entry.
The Super Bowl events include a number of New York City events, such as the Super Bowl Boulevard that will run from Herald Square to Times Square.
New NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton predicted a problem-free week leading up to Super Bowl Sunday.
"I'm very comfortable on everything I've been briefed on," Bratton said. ". . . we in fact are going to have a safe and secure event not only here but certainly at the game itself."
With Matthew Chayes