Superbowl Security: The Police State Equipment Protecting the Superbowl – Forward Observer Shop

Superbowl Security: The Police State Equipment Protecting the Superbowl

Superbowl Sunday is 07 FEB 16 and the San Jose Police Department, along with federal and private security, have ramped up to prevent and respond to known and suspected threats to the sporting event.  This gives us a very good opportunity to look at any cutting edge equipment being rolled out, in addition to the tried and true personnel and surveillance tools to which we’ve been accustomed.

This week the FBI and DHS published a Joint Special Event Threat Assessment for Superbowl Sunday that reported no known specific threats to the event, but they’re still not taking any chances.  San Jose Police have expected to investigate up to 20 threats each day.  Here’s a list of organizations, personnel and equipment being reported in Open Source:

  • A San Jose Police Department “MERGE Team”, a SWAT Team equivalent
    • According to the SJPD’s Special Operations Division website, a MERGE Team consists of two ten-man teams, along with two supervisors (22 total personnel)
    • Capable of operating covertly and in “cold” cars
  • Bearcat armored vehicles
  • 90 K-9 units, including bomb-sniffing dogs
  • 80 FBI bomb technicians
  • Thousands of surveillance cameras
  • License plate readers
  • Facial recognition software
  • Remote control robots under the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
  • An air sampling unit, part of the DHS BioWatch program, that sniffs for biological attacks
  • The Coast Guard will be implementing a maritime exclusion zone near the stadium
  • The TSA will have “behavior detection officers”
    • (AC: Likely to be in reference to the VIPR Teams used at previous high-profile sporting events.)
  • Phone and computer traffic to be “tracked”
    • (AC: Although not specifically stated, this is likely in reference to Stingrays, DRT Boxes, and ISMI catchers that allow law enforcement to eavesdrop in real-time on cellphone communications.  The “tracking” of computers is likely to identify network intrusion attempts as a part of cybersecurity.)
  • Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) officials will identify drones in the 32-mile radius No Drone Zone
    • (AC: In several past events, we’ve seen federal law enforcement use electronic jamming to force drones down out of the sky, so this a potential method of enforcement of the No Drone Zone.  Although NBC News and other outlets reported that the FAA would or could use “deadly force” in response to an errant or threatening drone, we could find no official information to corroborate that.   Still, we don’t expect to see Patriot missile batteries being put into use for small drones.)
  • North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will be enforcing a no-fly zone over Levi’s Stadium (NOTAM Details)
    • 2x USAF F-15s will be on stand-by for the event
    • (AC: In the event of an aircraft violating the no-fly zone, we can expect deadly force to be authorized if the aircraft poses a threat to the Superbowl.  We’ve not been able to confirm, however, who would be able to make the decision to use deadly force.)

In all, around 60 agencies are involved, including Customs & Border Patrol, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other lesser-known agencies like the National Biosurveillance Integration Center.  Additionally, a team of agents operating out of the FBI Joint Operations Center, located in Mountain View, CA, will coordinate security efforts and emergency response.  Social media will also be monitored in order to identify potential threats.

An FBI agent told KCTV5 news that, “[T]he Achilles’ heel for us is either an active shooter or a lone wolf terrorist event on a soft target.”

(Analyst Comment: This is the police state preparing where there is no known credible threat.  As we published on Monday in Generation Jihad 2.0, small-scale active shooter scenarios are the most difficult to detect.  The larger the terrorist operation, the more communication and coordination is required.  If there was a ‘swarm-style’ or lone wolf attack being planned, it could easily fly under the radar.)

Practical Intelligence Requirement:

What personnel, equipment and capabilities would be available in your town within 24-48 hours of an emergency event?

Photo via the Department of Homeland Security

Mike Shelby is a former military intelligence NCO and contract intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

1 Comment

  1. Great read. All of that manpower and training and still it’s the individual and small unit that is the “Achilles’ heel” of the state. Is there a better microcosm of U.S. national security (conventionally dominant – though that is perhaps waning – thus, forcing our enemies to adapt and strike unconventionally and on soft targets)?

    Question: Given the collection and analysis that you’ve all put into this product, and since the GOP Convention will largely take place in a stadium setting, how much of this groundwork that you’ve already done is directly transferable to analyzing the security situation in Cleveland next month? Does this dispatch serve as a model for security operations in similar venues, all else the same?

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