Napolitano says plan is ready for game

Updated: February 1, 2010, 7:18 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- After touring a rain-soaked Sun Life Stadium, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday that preparations are in place to thwart any terrorist threat or safety problem at the Super Bowl.

"We are doing everything we can think of in preparation to make sure it is a great event," Napolitano told reporters. "I'm here today to see the operation myself. I thought it was important to get down here."

Milt Ahlerich, the NFL's vice president for security, said Napolitano's tour of the stadium in nearby Miami Gardens was the first time a Homeland Security secretary had visited a Super Bowl site before game day.

[+] EnlargeJanet Napolitano
AP Photo/David J. PhillipJanet Napolitano became the first U.S. Department of Homeland Security secretary to tour a Super Bowl site prior to the day of the game.

About 1,000 federal, state and local law enforcement and security personnel are working Sunday's game and events leading up to it, said James Loftus, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Even though the FBI reports no credible threat against the Super Bowl, al-Qaida and other terror groups have frequently expressed interest in attacking a major U.S. sporting event.

"Rest assured, we're going to look out for you," Loftus said of what fans attending the game can expect. "We do this stuff week in and week out, and we're good at it."

The nerve center for security is the FBI-run Joint Operations Center, which includes representatives from 64 agencies at all levels of government, said John Gillies, agent in charge of the FBI's Miami field office. He said preparations have included intensive training and tabletop exercises involving various threat scenarios.

"There's security that the public will see, and there's security the public will not see," Gillies said.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will have its battalion of bomb-detecting dogs on hand, many of them veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, said Hugo Barrera, chief of ATF's Miami office. He said the dogs are able to find over 19,000 separate explosives components.

"They can detect about anything," Barrera said.

Fans themselves can also play a role by reporting any suspicious activity or unattended bags, Ahlerich said. And Napolitano said there will be a number flashed on screens at the stadium where fans can send a text message if they see anything amiss.

Other preparations include temporary flight restrictions and a 100-yard security perimeter around the stadium on game day. Fans attending the game face a long list of prohibited items, including long-lens cameras, camcorders, backpacks, noisemakers, coolers and camera tripods.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE