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The FBI's Role at Special Events

Super Sunday Security
The FBI’s Role at Special Events


January 2006 Law Enforcement Bulletin coverWhen pro football’s elite teams square off every year at the Super Bowl, they aren’t the only ones wearing their game faces. Working behind the scenes—serious and determined—are scores of FBI agents, analysts, and other experts who’ve spent months preparing for the big day, working shoulder to shoulder with an array of local, state, and federal partners.

Our mission: To keep fans, players, and the city safe by helping to plan, coordinate, and provide counterterrorism and crisis management support at the events. While local authorities—in this case, the Detroit Police Department—are responsible for overall event security at Super Bowls, the FBI has the lead on working to prevent potential terrorist attacks and on gathering, analyzing, and sharing intelligence on event-related threats.

In the latest issue of our Law Enforcement Bulletin, you can find a detailed analysis of these preparations—and their eventual payoff—at last year’s Super Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida.

You’ll learn who made up the multi-agency counterterrorism and crisis management team and what they did—from bomb technicians who responded to calls about suspicious packages...to divers who searched hulls for explosive devices and other hazards...to experts who outfitted and staffed the event operations center, the intelligence operations center, and “Big Blue,” our mobile command post designed to handle classified materials.

And what about this year’s Super Bowl in Detroit? We were there in force once again—working closely with some 10,000 security professionals (including Mounties from just across the border in Canada) from dozens of law enforcement agencies in what ended up the largest security operation in Super Bowl history.

The FBI, for its part, sent agents and other personnel from our field offices in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Miami, Phoenix, and Cincinnati, as well as from our Special Events Management Unit, Critical Incident Response Group, and Operational Technology Division. Our technical and cyber experts helped construct the Joint Operation Center, installed secure phone lines and high-speed Internet connections for those working the 24/7 shifts at the center, and helped set up camera and video monitoring capabilities around Ford Field and the city. Our analysts also performed more than 35,000 background checks and sorted through reams of intelligence reports.

And how about the Winter Olympics? We were there, too—with the express permission of the Italian government. (To learn more about our role at international special events like the Olympics, see the article starting on page 10 of the Law Enforcement Bulletin.) The FBI also provides counterterrorism and crisis management support at major sporting events like this month’s NBA All-Star Game, Republican and Democratic conventions, presidential inaugurations, and high-level government conferences.

It’s all part of our work to protect you from terrorist attacks and other security threats...so you can sit back and enjoy the game or event, safely and securely.

Resources: FBI Counterterrorism webpage