NEW JERSEY (PIX11) - If security is compromised during the Super Bowl, a swift reaction will start in a room at the joint operations center where, in a matter of minutes, law enforcement — comprised of 35 agencies — will be able to identify whether or not the incursion is an act of terrorism.
At the FBI headquarters in Newark, Special Agent in Charge Aaron Ford described the collaboration as “an unprecedented collaboration.”
PIX 11 News was one of a handful of news organizations invited to take a tour of what will be the nerve center for agencies ranging from the CIA to the New Jersey Transit Police.
Preparations for the round-the-clock operation began at last year’s big game in New Orleans, which suffered its own scare with the infamous blackout. Law enforcement in New York and New Jersey will not rest until well past the presentation of the Lombardi Trophy. However, MetLife stadium is a facility the two lead agencies know well according to Ford, “We’re unique in New Jersey because we have 16 home games. No other city can say that, so the the FBI and New Jersey state police work those games during the season every year.”
In the past, the Super Bowl has housed sniper nests at the Giants Super Bowl in 2012 as well as all of the events leading up to it. Super Bowl Boulevard in Times Square already has a heavy presence and security was out in force around both teams as they arrived at their respected team hotels on Sunday.
The operations center is a few miles away from MetLife Stadium, but completely in tune with the movements at the facility as well as around it. In fact in one room, the Air Security Operations Center; the FAA, The Department of Defense and NORAD will set up their base to monitor all air space.
The Department of Energy is also involved as a result of the potential chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear terroristic threats.
However, which area in particular is drawing the most focus for the operation? Ford says, “Our intel sort of dictates what we focus on and I think it’s-clear to say that we are very, (pause) very interested in ensuring that we have attention placed towards any homegrown violent extremists that are in the area or live in the area.”