On the wintry streets of downtown Minneapolis, ice crunches underfoot. The wind is whipping, and the temperature hovers in the teens. The weather will be one of the many topics under discussion inside the city’s convention center, where officials from every local, state, and federal organization involved with security at this year’s Super Bowl have gathered to put their planning and preparation to the test.
With the big game just around the corner, participants at this recent daylong exercise — the first time everyone has come together under one roof — will be asked to simulate their agency’s responses to a variety of scenarios, from an active shooter event to reuniting a missing child with a parent to keeping fans and first responders warm in the frigid Minnesota winter. Nearly two years of planning has taken place, largely behind the scenes, to make sure that Super Bowl LII — and the 10 days of events leading up to the kickoff at U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4 — is safe and secure. Nothing has been left to chance, not even the weather.
“An event like this is about planning, about preparation, and about partnerships,” said Rick Thornton, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis Division. “Each organization brings its unique abilities to the table, but it requires tremendous teamwork and cooperation to pull everything together into a unified whole.”
The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) is the lead agency for security at this year’s Super Bowl, and they are being supported by an impressive team that includes dozens of local police departments and public safety organizations, along with federal agencies including the FBI and multiple components of the Department of Homeland Security.