Security Takes the Set Position at Super Bowl XLI

Jan. 31, 2007
With Super Bowl on Level One national security alert, manpower rolls in to prevent terror attacks

Miami, FL. Super Bowl XLI is being treated as a Level One National Security threat because of its extreme high profile status. While no specific threats have been made, fears of a terrorist attack have the government and NFL on high alert for the February 4, 2007 event at Dolphin Stadium this Sunday.

"We cannot get into the actual security for obvious reasons," said Milt Ahlerich, NFL vice president of security. However, the plan to have it covered by air, sea and land, according to him, has been under development for over two years.

Miami Dade Police Department, as the designated lead agency, solicited the help of the federal government, according to Ahlerich, to partner with the security efforts of the NFL and state and local law enforcement. Now on hand are thousands of officers and agents from more than 50 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies-stationed at Dolphin Stadium and the surrounding areas.

The NFL's security budget helps pay for state-of-the art screening equipment, high-tech surveillance, bomb detection and detonation devices that are in place. "On the civilian side we do our job," says Ahlerich, "the league has taken every possible measure to ensure the teams and spectators are safe come game day."

Giving Super Bowl XLI a Level One national security alert means significant federal support for security from the government to assist state and local agencies. The same manpower and resources is required as in what is used during the President's State of the Union address, Ahlerich comments.

"There has not been a single specific threat," states Robert Parker, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department. Yet, they have prepared for every possible event or situation and have all the resources necessary, he adds.

The coordination between the agencies has been outstanding, according to Parker. "A partnership has developed between local and federal law enforcement that will transcend beyond this sporting event," he comments.

Eight months ago, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives Special Agent Julie Torres was appointed federal security coordinator for Super Bowl XLI. "We have planned, prepared and practiced for any situation," she says.

Spearheaded by Miami-Dade police, other law enforcement personnel from as far north as Fort Pierce and St Lucie County, FL are being tapped to participate in this event, Parker reports. A command post is set up at Dolphin Stadium to coordinate security throughout Super Bowl week until game day.

Miami-Dade police and the U.S. Coast Guard are teamed with federal agencies such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Bomb-sniffing police dogs are being used to conduct sweeps of the stadium, parking lot and vehicles.

On game day, a temporary no-fly zone will ensure no planes violate airspace over Dolphin Stadium for 30 miles. Security screening at Dolphin Stadium will be significantly heightened for the Super Bowl. Many items usually permitted in NFL events will not be allowed into Dolphin Stadium. The National Football League and the Miami-Dade Police Department are strongly recommending that spectators bring nothing larger than a very small purse or bag. Tailgating in the stadium parking lot is also banned.

With all these security measures in place you could forget that this is really about the game. "This is not the Super Bowl of Security," says Parker. It's about a game between two great teams and fans should enjoy themselves, he adds. Public safety is just a top priority.

Keeping the players safe from Miami itself is all together another issue. The South Beach sizzling nightlife scene is very alluring. With the Super Bowl returning to Dolphin Stadium for the ninth time, Miami has been the location of some notorious pre-game activities that have hurt some teams' chances.

Bears Head Coach, Lovie Smith, is not concerned about enjoying the festivities himself. "I don't drink, I don't smoke and I don't dance," he comments, "so what is there to do?"

He feels his players are focused as well. The Bears had already put in a practice on Monday while the Colts were arriving in the evening.

According to several Bears players on hand, the decision to arrive in Miami on Sunday-a day ahead of the Colts-should work in their favor. "It allowed for us to get situated, make it sort of like a normal week," Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman says. "I'm just glad we got here when we did."

As for as not getting caught up in the Miami scene wide receiver Bernard Berrian adds, "If you want to win, you stay away from the distractions."