Threat level raised for Super Bowl
AFP | January 30, 2007
The National Football League has boosted the law enforcement budget and heightened the security threat level for Super Bowl 41 because of terrorism fears.
The Super Bowl has been raised to a level one national security event, putting it on par in terms of manpower and resources with the US President's State of the Union speech and the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
"We consider the Super Bowl so high profile that we see it as attractive to terrorists," said Milt Ahlerich, NFL vice-president of security.
The last Super Bowl to be given a level one security designation was the 2002 New Orleans Super Bowl held three months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon New York and Washington.
Ahlerich said the league has budgeted six million dollars for the event. The money will pay for sophisticated equipment, screenings, background checks, hiring security experts and paying for 3,000 civilian security workers.
Ahlerich said they expect a peaceful event but are preparing for the worst.
"Our teams will be safe," Ahlerich said. "We want the focus to be on the teams on field and not on security."
Robert Parker, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, said their contingency plans include bringing in officers from all over the state of Florida. They will be backed up by the military.
He declined to say how many law-enforcement personnel would be working at the various Super Bowl events.
"We are not giving out those figures," he said. "We have planned for major casualty-type situations. We are not worried about not having enough manpower."
Without going into specifics, Parker said uniformed and undercover officers will have the latest crime-fighting equipment on the ground and in the air.
"We have envisioned every possibility imagined as far as potential threats," Parker said.
Part of their preparations has also included what might happen if aging Cuban President Fidel Castro were to die during Super Bowl week.
"We don't expect anything to happen, but if it did we would be looking at celebrations and people taking to the streets," Parker said.
Aircraft will also be prohibited from flying anywhere near the Super Bowl stadium, Ahlerich said.
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