By Evan Perez
More air marshals and behavioral detection officers, radiological detection teams and random baggage checks at transit hubs are among the security measures the federal Homeland Security Department will deploy in the next few days to help local police in New Jersey and New York secure the Super Bowl.
The game will be played at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey’s Meadowlands area just outside New York City. The stadium’s location near a major airport and busy commuter train lines presents security challenges. Unlike audiences for other championship games, spectators of Super Bowl XLVIII will rely heavily on mass transit.
Homeland Security officials say that federal agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation will deploy hundreds of employees to help New Jersey and New York police secure what’s been officially designated “an event of national significance.”
The Transportation Security Administration says it will deploy its Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response, or VIPR, teams. Composed air marshals, transportation security inspectors, behavioral detection officers, the teams will work at train hubs, particularly New York’s Penn Station and Secaucus Junction in New Jersey.
The VIPR teams will help Amtrak police, New Jersey Transit officials and local police agencies with more random baggage checks. Officers with radiological detection equipment also will be deployed at transit hubs.
On Super Bowl Sunday, federal and state agencies plan to check all bags at Secaucus Junction for an expected 15,000 New Jersey Transit passengers headed to the Meadowlands station, which sits a few yards from the stadium. Because the station is so close to the stadium, passengers will be screened one stop before.
Some of the earliest signs of increased security will be visible Wednesday when the additional screeners will conduct random checks of baggage for travelers using Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and Metropolitan Transit Authority trains from hubs such as New York’s Grand Central and Penn stations and at Secaucus Junction, TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein said.
The TSA is also adding more equipment and opening more screening lanes at Newark’s Liberty International Airport to handle the crush of fans from Denver, Seattle and elsewhere arriving in New York for several days of events leading up to the game. Travelers on the Monday after the game will see more TSA officers and more equipment to handle the crowds.
Other security measures include:
– The FBI plans add more analysts, weapons of mass destruction specialists and other agents to assist local authorities.
–The New York Police Department and FBI are increasing operations that target sex trafficking, which investigators say often increases for major sporting and other events.
– Customs and Border Protection officers will scan cargo entering the stadium, looking for drugs and weapons. They also will help secure air space over the game.
– The U.S. Coast Guard will help local authorities secure canals and rivers that pass next to the stadium complex.
– Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers will target counterfeit vendors selling fake Super Bowl memorabilia.