Political events more daunting, police say

Updated: January 21, 2004, 9:43 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- A fence has been built around the Reliant Stadium complex and metal detectors, bomb sweeps and a 12-hour no-fly zone in the area are some of the security measures being taken for the Super Bowl.

Those attending the game will have to pass through several checkpoints before entering the stadium and will be subject to searches, NFL vice president for security Milt Ahlerich said Wednesday.

A total of 25 state, federal and local law enforcement agencies will be working together to provide security at the game.

"Obviously, our first goal is prevention," Dennis Storemski, Houston's executive assistant police chief, said. "And if we make the target a little harder to deal with and pay attention to intelligence, I don't think we have anything to worry about."

While acknowledging that providing security for a major sporting event like the Super Bowl is a vast undertaking, Storemski said providing security for the Economic Summit for Industrialized Nations in 1990 and the Republican National Convention two years later was more challenging.

Security in the city has been high since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Storemski said, because of a chain of chemical plants and refineries along the Houston Ship Channel.

The Houston police SWAT team and other divisions have gone through a number of training exercises, Storemski said. He said a command center will be set up and officers will be able to monitor people via closed-circuit cameras throughout the city.

"We feel very confident about our abilities," he said. "We began our planning process over a year ago when we attended (last year's Super Bowl) in San Diego. We did that primarily for the purpose of determining what kind of issues that we might be dealing with, what kind of problems are associated with a Super Bowl that we may not have been aware of.

Once back in Houston, police came up with a comprehensive plan to deal with security, crowd control and traffic management.

"We really anticipate it is going to be a calm day for everybody to enjoy the game," Storemski said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press