On Sunday, the NFL playoffs will determine which teams will go to the Super Bowl, and the big game is only a few weeks away on Feb. 2. Law enforcement officials are hurrying to make sure that one of the world’s most-watched sporting events is also the safest.
Security preparations began about four years ago, when MetLife Stadium was first awarded the Super Bowl. Since then, security teams have gone to the last three Super Bowls taking a look at what went right and learning from what went wrong.With just over two weeks to go before Super Bowl XLVIII, law enforcement officials say they're ready for anything.
"Our tactical teams have been training throughout the year for different scenarios to include active shooter, bomb threats and hazards related to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear threats," said FBI Special Agent Aaron Ford, in charge of the FBI's division in Newark, N.J.
As early as a week before the game, MetLife Stadium will go into lockdown, with a perimeter fence and vehicle checkpoints.
Come game day, fans can expect airport-type screening and then some. Four thousand officers from more than 100 agencies will flank the stadium.
SWAT team divers, sniffer dogs, bomb units and even a mobile hospital, complete with a surgery ward, will be in place.
"We’re approaching it, basically, from an air, land and sea concept,” said Lt. Col. Edward Cetnar of the New Jersey State Police. “And, hopefully, none of this will come to fruition but we have to be prepared to take any of this on."
CBS News national security analyst Juan Zarate, a former deputy national security adviser on terrorism for President George W. Bush, helped plan security for the Super Bowl from 2005 to 2008.
“Authorities are always following threads and suspects and concerns that could materialize and, perhaps more importantly and frighteningly, do any new threats emerge that may not have been on the radar screen," he said.
The federal government has considered the Super Bowl a level one national security event since the Sept. 11 attacks.
And with the heart of Manhattan set to transform into Super Bowl Boulevard, security measures will stretch far beyond the stadium itself.
"Nobody at this table needs to be reminded, in the shadow of the World Trade Center, how important this event is to make people safe in our region," New Jersey Transit Police Chief Christopher Trucillo said.
Not only are there security preparations, but in the event of a snowstorm as many as 900 snowplows will be on standby. As for the possibility of another halftime blackout officials say not only do they have a power backup but they have a backup for that backup.