No known threats, but Super Bowl transit security ramped up
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Law enforcement officials are beefing up Super Bowl security measures for the mass transit system after suicide bombings in Russia in the weeks before the Sochi Olympics, though there are no known terrorism threats against Sunday's big game.
Acknowledging the potential vulnerability of buses and trains -- which are going to be the prime movers of fans to and from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. -- Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said the transit system will be a key focus for security and intelligence operations.
"Of particular concern to us has been what has been going on overseas in Volgograd in relation to the Sochi Olympics," Fuentes said at a security briefing Wednesday. "As you know both bombings targeted mass transit so we relied a great deal on [Department of Homeland Security] and the FBI, which are the gateway on intelligence."
"Vehicles are going to be scanned, they are going to be checked, they are going to be swept; that includes trains, that includes buses, that includes cars," Fuentes told reporters during a security briefing in Manhattan. "We are going to do this in a practiced and expeditious way."
NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said that law enforcement agencies were keeping their eyes on activities around the world. "But as of this time there are no threats directed against this event that we are aware of," Bratton said.
With some of the most extensive counterterrorism infrastructure in the nation around the New York metropolitan area, protection for an event like the Super Bowl, as well as the related Super Bowl events in the city, is as high as it could be anywhere in the nation, Bratton said. He said the NYPD has a large uniformed presence around the events in Manhattan, as well as undercover officers and a net of security cameras.
"We have run a number of tabletop exercises taking into account just about every type of scenario that could unfold, the lone wolf type of situation up to an including nuclear radiation issues," Bratton explained.
In law enforcement, the lone wolf scenario involves an al-Qaida inspired person, largely working alone, who attempts a singular terrorism attack much the way Faisal Shahzad did in 2010 when he tried to set off a bomb in Times Square.
While officials Wednesday didn't want to talk about specifics, it is known that the NYPD and nearby law enforcement agencies have for years been using radiation detectors to guard against radiological "dirty bombs" or the catastrophic fission-style nuclear weapon. Biological and chemical sensors are also being used.