PHOENIX (Reuters) - Super Bowl security officials acknowledge the NFL championship game represents a high profile target on a world stage but are unaware of any specific credible threats against Sunday’s showcase.
In advance of one of the world’s biggest single day sporting events, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was in Glendale on Wednesday to review security preparations and tour University of Phoenix Stadium where the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots will battle.
Deadly shootings in Paris and arrest of suspects in Belgium, Greece and Germany heightened fears of more attacks around the world and social media accounts linked to Middle East militant groups have carried a number of threats to attack high-profile U.S. events.
“There is no specific credible threat,” said Johnson, who has appointed a “federal coordination team” to work with local, state and federal agencies to ensure safety of fans, players and other workers associated with the Super Bowl. “I‘m confident we will have a safe and secure and successful event.”
Sunday’s game has been given a Special Event Assessment Rating (SEAR) 1 rating, the same as in previous years, except for the year after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, when a higher level was declared.
But security will be tight and visible around Super Bowl-related events as well as during the game itself. All fans will pass through metal detectors and pat downs.
Over 4,000 private security personnel will be deployed and the almost 3,000 member Phoenix police force will be on Super Bowl duty.
Nuclear device sniffing teams will be deployed and a network of Bio-Watch detectors will be set up to provide a warning in the event of a biological attack.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a press release it had held special cyber-security and anti-sniper training sessions.
A U.S. official said the Transportation Security Administration, which is responsible for screening airline passengers, will add screeners and checkpoint lanes at airports.
Federal air marshals, “behavior detection officers” and dog teams will help to secure transportation systems in the area.
“We will be ramping it (security) up on Sunday, there is no doubt about that,” said Federal Coordinator Matthew Allen, the DHS point of contact for planning and support. “I have every confidence the public safety agencies that represented in the planning process are going to have their best and brightest out there this weekend and we will have a very safe Super Bowl.”
Editing by Gene Cherry