Super Bowl security set

Minneapolis Police Cmdr. Scott Gerlicher
Minneapolis Police Cmdr. Scott Gerlicher

The Minneapolis Police Department has been working for more than two years to develop a plan for Super Bowl security.

As a result, people should feel safe when they come downtown, said Cmdr. Scott Gerlicher, who’s leading the security efforts.

An estimated 1 million people will descend on the Twin Cities for the festivities, which include Super Bowl Live, the 10-day fan festival on Nicollet Mall that runs Jan. 26 through game day, Feb. 4. The festival will include free live concerts, national broadcasts, food, stunts and more. The Super Bowl Experience theme park will be at the Convention Center a few blocks away.

About 3,000 officers will be deployed throughout the Twin Cities metro during the 1o-day period, Gerlicher said. Most will be in typical police uniforms, though there will also be some officers in plainclothes and SWAT personnel.

A majority of officers for the 10 days will actually come from outside Minneapolis. Since MPD has only about 870 officers, more than 2,000 will come from other state, local and federal agencies as well as the Minnesota National Guard.

Even with the festivities, MPD will maintain a robust presence within its precincts outside of downtown, Gerlicher said. All precincts will have coverage that’s equal to or greater than normal, and all that coverage will be provided by Minneapolis officers, he said.

Gerlicher said he doesn’t expect any mass protests during the game week, though a rally is planned for the afternoon of game day. He said agencies are ready to respond to protests and also to ensure protestors’ First Amendment rights.

Some of the security plan for the week is under wraps, but visible measures will include fencing and concrete barriers and explosive-detection dogs. Officers will also be able to utilize tools such as 3D maps, an abundance of security cameras and technology to track locations of officers in the field.

The bill for all of the security will be about $3.1 million. The Super Bowl Host Committee will reimburse the city for the costs.

The NFL will handle security at the game itself. Only ticketed fans will be allowed on the light rail that day. Fans will go through security checkpoints at either the Mall of America (Blue Line) or Stadium Village (Green Line). (Free replacement busses will operate instead of the Blue Line and the Green Line between Stadium Village and Target Field).

Agencies are also reminding volunteers and fans to be on the lookout for anything unusual during game week. Several agencies created a video of security tips, narrated by two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing, Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes.

In the video, Kensky says their tips concern a person’s behavior, not his or her ethnicity or religious affiliation. She and Downes say fans should be on the lookout and report people doing suspicious activities, such as photographing security checkpoints or asking questions beyond a reasonable level of curiosity.

They add that people should report immediately if they lose their volunteer gear or credentials. People should also be on the lookout for any person or item that looks out of place, they say.

Super Bowl events will be drone-free zones, they add. People who see drones flying over large crowds or see a person flying a drone should report that information immediately.

Kensky and Downes also give tips on what to look for regarding suspicious vehicles and suspicious online behavior.

“No observation is too insignificant,” Downes says. “First responders would rather you say something than not saying anything at all.”

“Remember, trust your instincts, and report anyone and anything that seems suspicious,” Kensky adds.

Gerlicher said the security plan wouldn’t change for the most part if the Vikings make the Super Bowl. But it could lead to more people driving to the game, he said.

Plans postgame could change, too, he added. A Vikings win could mean large crowds after the game and would also mean a parade, just when officers would be trying to relax.

“But hey, we would take the inconvenience,” he said.

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