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Dozens of agencies prepare for Super Bowl LV safety

Super Bowl Safety
Posted at 8:52 AM, Feb 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-07 09:31:28-05

TAMPA, Fla. — A historic Super Bowl in Tampa means law enforcement is working around the clock to keep the game and festivities safe.

Dozens of agencies from the federal, state and local levels are working collaboratively by land, air and water.

“It’s been a very big undertaking,” said Ron Hopper, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Tampa division.

The agency is looking for any threats, domestic or international. As of Saturday afternoon, Hopper said there were no credible threats.

“As we stand here right now, there still remains no credible threats we have responded to a significant number of concerns that we get from the public and things that we have self-generated through our intelligence operation center,” he said.

They’re encouraging people to say something if they see something.

“We’re looking for any reports that come in from citizens regarding concerning people, we’re looking at suspicious vehicles, we still have our human trafficking initiative, and we’re also still very concerned about drone activity,” he said.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said there were nearly 70 drone intrusions in no-fly zones. According to Hopper, that’s meant everything from a warning or seizure up to a criminal charge.

Homeland Security says they’ve seen nearly $70 million worth of counterfeit merchandise. On game day, they’ll also be on the lookout for any counterfeit tickets.

The agencies are also focusing on human trafficking.

“Unfortunately, we’ve been successful at identifying a number of victims this week, rescuing them, and then pursuing their traffickers,” said Kevin Sibley, HSI Tampa’s acting special agent in charge.

Teams are also working to protect cybersecurity.

“CISA plays an important role in making sure both the NFL systems are secure, all our communications between law enforcement agencies are secure but we also as a law enforcement community look at trends and threats. Whether it be foreign terrorist organizations or potentially homegrown threats, we are scouring the internet both darknet, open-source open net, social media platforms looking for any tips or leads of a potential threat and we’re following up on each and every one of those,” Sibley said, noting nothing specific found towards the Super Bowl at last check.

Ahead of Super Bowl week, Tampa Police’s dive team said they dove bridges and the majority of the Riverwalk in a security sweep.

“Law enforcement agencies out here on the water has been significant; it’s been nonstop. Everybody’s been very cooperative so far,” said Officer Chris Audet. “This is a clean zone if you will, a safety zone so you can’t stop at any point in time.”

They’re patrolling the waterways 24/7 along the event zones, expecting high vessel traffic.

“It’s a calm, relaxing river, and that’s how we want it to be treated as such. Abide by the navigational rules, stay to the right, treat it just like a road and enjoy yourself. There’s really no rush,” he said.

On game day, the sheriff’s office said security will be tight, and agencies will be out in full force to make sure people can enjoy the game safely.

“When you talk about a major sporting event like this, we have quite an expansive and comprehensive plan that encompasses over 70 different law enforcement agencies from as far as the state of California,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister.

Security preparations are also underway for next year’s Super Bowl. The FBI said their partners from Los Angeles are also in Tampa to learn.