MIAMI — Florida and federal law enforcement agencies preparing for the Super Bowl this Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens say they are ready for anything, including a detonated bomb or massive food poisoning, but haven’t identified any threats.
Events for the 54th Super Bowl, between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, kicked off Monday around South Florida, with an interactive Super Bowl Experience in Miami Beach and Super Bowl Live at Miami’s Bayfront Park. It’s a lot of mileage to patrol, but officials say they are well prepared. They had been planning for months and running drills.
Maj. Ed Caneva, the Miami-Dade Police Department operations commander for the NFL title game, said they identify a raft of different scenarios.
“We have been training and addressing anything,” Caneva said.
The Super Bowl has long been considered a potential target for terrorists or other violent extremists, and this year the game will be played amid rising tensions with Iran. But none of the games has ever been attacked. Anthony Salisbury, chief of the Homeland Security Investigations office in Miami, said law enforcement agencies nonetheless must be prepared.
“It’s all hands on deck,” Salisbury said. “This is a high-profile event. It’s the same with every Super Bowl. Nothing is being taken for granted.”
Several thousand federal, state and local law enforcement officials are involved in the game and the events leading up to it. Brian Swain, chief of the Miami Secret Service office and lead federal coordinator for the event, said there’s no intelligence thus far indicating any kind of threat.
“There is no specific credible threat right now,” Swain said. “I’m confident in our security plan.”
Streets will be blocked off. There will be scores of uniformed police officers and others in plainclothes roaming the stadium to ensure safety. Bomb-sniffing dogs will patrol, and fans must go through metal detectors.
The Federal Aviation Administration has imposed flight restrictions over Hard Rock Stadium and around some of the other events. The FAA has even produced a video called “No Drone Zone,” intended to curb the devices around game activities.
“Enjoy the Super Bowl. Leave your drone at home,” the video says.
Commercial flights at Miami International Airport are unaffected.
And while officials haven’t expressed concerns for the game due to travelers arriving infected with a new coronavirus from China, Miami’s airport is on the list of 20 nationally where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have expanded screening. CDC officials are taking temperatures of travelers from China and asking them to fill out a questionnaire.
More than 10,000 staff members and volunteers will also use a phone app called SaferWatch to report crimes and suspicious activity during the Super Bowl and the events leading up to the game. Threats and crimes reported on the app — which is free and available to the public — will be fed directly to onsite police command centers, letting law enforcement officials manage up-to-the-minute intelligence.
The company’s CEO, Geno Roefaro, said being able to bring together police, fans, staff members and volunteers to share potential threats in real time is “what our technology is all about and what makes our work across industry so rewarding.”
There has been one potential close call in a past Super Bowl: Five years ago, federal authorities said they encountered a plot in Phoenix by a man who wanted to attack the Super Bowl and an adjacent mall and entertainment district in Glendale, Arizona, with pipe bombs. They said the man, Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, was unable to obtain the explosives, and the game between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks was not hit.
Kareem later was convicted of conspiring to provide the guns used in an attack on a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas in which two heavily armed associates were killed by local police officers. He also was convicted of providing support to the Islamic State group. His lawyers asked a judge to grant him a new trial or throw out his convictions.
This year’s Super Bowl will be the Miami area’s 11th, the most ever. Hard Rock Stadium is home to the Miami Dolphins and the University of Miami Hurricanes and hosts concerts for major acts including The Rolling Stones. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he’s confident the area is ready for this game as well.
“We know how to do it,” Gimenez said. “We’ve done this before, and we’re pretty good at it.”