Super Bowl host takes different approach to big game's security

On Sunday, Houston hosts Super Bowl LI.

The Patriots and the Falcons got in some practice at separate locations on Friday. Atlanta is trying to win its first Super Bowl while New England is looking to capture its fifth championship.

Security is ramped up in Houston in advance of the game.

But this year things look different at America’s biggest sporting event. CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor reports the difference from last year’s Super Bowl is striking.

At Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco, it seemed there were police on every corner in combat fatigues and carrying assault rifles.

This year, Houston police made the conscious decision to change that approach, which doesn’t mean that security isn’t there.

Officer Keith McCart, of the Long Beach, Calif., Police Department, patrols with K-9 Pidura outside the George R. Brown Convention Center, the NFL Super Bowl 51 football media center and site of the NFL Experience, Jan. 31, 2017, in Houston.

Officer Keith McCart, of the Long Beach, Calif., Police Department, patrols with K-9 Pidura outside the George R. Brown Convention Center, the NFL Super Bowl 51 football media center and site of the NFL Experience, Jan. 31, 2017, in Houston.

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Inside the Harris County Emergency Management Center, Francisco Sanchez showed Glor where 60 local, state and federal agencies coordinate behind the scenes.

“You will see a very heavy law enforcement presence, but you should also know there will be law enforcement that you won’t see,” Sanchez said.

On the street, Houston police, the lead agency, are giving the public a different look: less obvious presence, more hidden help.

Helicopters are still a near-constant presence in the sky, but on the ground, you do not see lines of combat fatigues and assault rifles. It’s also a no-drone zone.

Security has changed because technology and Houston have too.

Thirteen years ago, the last time Houston hosted, there was only a small light rail system. That has been expanded dramatically, stretching Houston out, forcing police to cover more ground.

Tom Lambert, CEO of Harris County Metro, said 800 volunteers have been deployed.

“They’re additional eyes and ears,” Lambert said. “If they see something that is not in line with how we normally operate, to make sure that they’re notifying it to the Metro police, and we’ll coordinate that with the Houston police and all of our other partners.”

It’s also a longer event. The security plan this time covers 10 days, not four. And it means paying attention to cameras, and what’s happening online, more than ever before.

“One of the things we do have to watch very closely is the unsanctioned events: those pop-up events that are happening in midtown or downtown, these clubs that pop up overnight, these big parties that are hosted,” Sanchez said. “That’s inevitably a part of Super Bowl.”

Authorities will want to know who’s tweeting out an event that just came together and how can police get there if necessary.