INDIANAPOLIS — Law enforcement officials charged with Super Bowl security are taking extraordinary measures to prevent a terrorist attack, but they’re also working to keep the event from being a field day for common criminals.
Police are using a wide array of resources, from surveillance cameras to software that can track germ-warfare, to minimize the terror threat. But they’re also using Indianapolis ministers as designated peace-keepers to minimize what the city’s public director calls “street-level conflicts” that may erupt among sports fans.
Their mission is to keep a stadium filled with 68,000 fans safe from some weapon-wielding terrorist who wants to make a political statement during the most-watched televised event in the world. And also to deal with the more mundane criminal elements that come with an event of the Super Bowl size: Pickpockets, prostitutes and people who drink way too much.
"The goal is safe, secure and fun Super Bowl," said U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
On Wednesday, Napolitano joined Indianapolis Public Safety Chief Frank Straub at a news conference to unveil some of the measures the Super Bowl host city is taking to keep people safe before and during game day on Sunday.
Some are already visible — like the increased but low-key presence of city police in the open-air festival site known as Super Bowl Village in downtown Indianapolis. Filled with food, entertainment and celebrity sightings, it’s attracted more than 200,000 visitors since last weekend.
The increased police presence seems to be working: "I’ve never seen so many happy people in one place," Straub said.
Some measures aren’t so visible. Few visitors may notice the network of surveillance cameras hanging from street lights in the downtown area. Few probably know that every shipment into the game venue, Lucas Oil Stadium, is being screened for drugs, weapons and explosives by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.