Super Bowl security: Behind the scenes with the FBI
(CBS News) From snipers, to hazmat teams, to bomb detection canines, this is the Super Bowl of security operations -- where more than 70 law enforcement agencies come together with one common goal: a close game with absolutely no surprises.
By land, air and sea, an alphabet soup of local, state and federal agencies -- along with NFL security -- are working round the clock to make sure nothing happens off the field on Sunday.
At a joint operations center, Mike Anderson, the special agent in charge of the New Orleans FBI, tracks classified intelligence updates on terrorism, as well as every incident in the area. If something happened, the system he monitors would offer minute-by-minute information about whatever the threat was.
"We've got at least 70 agencies participating in covering this event," he said. "The capability of that system can go into incredible detail."
Meanwhile, New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas has been giving pep talks to some of the more than 1,200 officers that will be working 12-hour shifts straight through Super Bowl Sunday. He also oversees a hidden arsenal of special ops tools that he hopes the public will never see - including armor-plated crowd control vehicles.
"You cover everything from soup to nuts," Serpas said. "Air, water, ground, subterranean, deployment patterns. Where are the police going to be? Where are the special assets going to be?"
And then there's Jeff Miller, head of NFL security. He's focused on protecting the players and fans inside the stadium.
"What we try to do is do what we believe is necessary and appropriate," he said. "But do it in a way that the fans understand what we're doing and don't suffer because of it."
From a central command post, Miller's team tracks everything coming in to the Superdome. In addition to the 4,000 private security guards that have been hired, customs and border agents inspect all cargo before it enters the venue.
"There's so many different steps -- from walking through metal detectors, to pat downs, to x-rays, to canine explosive teams," Miller said.
Just days before the big game, teams of homeland security agents simulated tactical exercises for any imaginable scenario.
Even Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is involved in the preparations.
"We need to constantly challenge ourselves with the 'what if' this, 'what if' that," she said. "What if there were someone who managed to get an IED in here? ... What if someone had a toxic substance? All those are scenarios we think about and plan for."
Or there's that 9/11 scenario -- a terrorist attack using an aircraft. Customs and border protection agents will be enforcing a 30-mile temporary flight restriction zone around the stadium on game day.
One of the pilots patrolling the air summed up the goal of all of the super security.
"We want to do our best to make sure everybody has a safe and fun time and never knows we're even here."
To watch John Miller's full report, click on the video player above.
- John Miller
John Miller is a senior correspondent for CBS News, with extensive experience in intelligence, law enforcement and journalism, including stints in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI.
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