Inside the FBI: Playing It Safe—The Bureau Prepares for Super Bowl LII


February 1, 2018

The FBI says there were several security preparation “firsts” for football’s biggest game and related NFL activities in Minneapolis.


Audio Transcript

Mollie Halpern: The FBI says there were several security preparation “firsts” for football’s biggest game and related NFL activities in Minneapolis.

Dozens of law enforcement agencies are working together to ensure the events are safe. 

Super Bowl LII will be played at U.S. Bank Stadium—which is located in the middle of downtown businesses, residences, and public transportation.

Blocks away, the Minneapolis Convention Center hosts the NFL Experience, which immerses fans in all things football.

Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office Richard Thornton says other Super Bowl venue sites have not presented the exact same challenges.

Richard Thornton: In terms of establishing the perimeter and the security zones, it made that significantly more complicated.

Halpern: Joseph Rivers is the assistant special agent in charge.

Joseph Rivers: We’re actually prescreening some ticket holders and attendees at distant locations, which is a first for the NFL and for the security plan.

Halpern: In addition to its intelligence and other responsibilities, the FBI is the lead agency for counterterrorism efforts leading up to and during Super Bowl LII—and every Super Bowl.

Rivers: We do it every year in every city that hosts it. So we actually bring experience—some continuity and background—to the planning cycle, which we’re obviously willing to share, and that we work with our state and local partners on to transfer some of that knowledge and hopefully shortcut some of the planning process.

Halpern: The planning process for each Super Bowl begins about two years beforehand.

Part of that process is establishing working groups—of which there are currently 41—that focus on different aspects of the public safety plan.

Rivers: There’s everything from venue security and stadium security to aviation security to all hazards—all hazards meaning the coordination and de-confliction for suspicious packages and bomb squad responses and hazardous materials and hazardous evidence response—so there’s working groups for all of those.

Halpern: Law enforcement agencies that are already preparing for the next two Super Bowls will learn best practices from this year’s event.

Thornton: There’s an entire structured program for them here to witness what’s going on in the various command centers, all designed to help them prepare for their event.

Halpern: The FBI—playing it safe with Super Bowl security through planning and partnership.

Thornton: It’s a herculean effort for overall law enforcement public safety, and all toward the goal of making sure that it is not only a safe event for everyone that attends and participates but that it’s an enjoyable event for them as well.

Halpern: Thanks for listening to Inside the FBI. I’m Mollie Halpern of the Bureau.

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