ATLANTA - There are just a few days before Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta -- and security is being kicked into high-gear leading up to Sunday's big game.
Forty different state and local agencies and 25 federal agencies have been planning for two years to keep more than a million fans safe.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen headlined the official Super Bowl LIII security briefing Wednesday. She had high praise for local public safety leaders and their teams.
“At the Department of Homeland Security, we’re proud to support the city of Atlanta," Nielsen said. “(Atlanta Police) Chief (Erika) Shields and the entire Atlanta area public safety team have done an outstanding job in developing their plan for this weekend’s activity. You can rest assured they have thought of every contingency and have worked extraordinarily hard.”
Nielsen saluted the more than 600 homeland security agents, officers and other staffers from 40 DHS divisions now working round the clock to support the APD-led Super Bowl security operation.
“I want to make clear that despite last month’s lapse in funding, DHS employees are and have been committed to keeping our nation and Super Bowl LIII secure,” Nielsen said.
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Channel 2's Aaron Diamant saw U.S. Customs and Border Protection Blackhawks in the air over Mercedes-Benz Stadium Wednesday and got unique, up-close access to CBP’s high-tech vehicle screening operation.
“I feel like we’re in a very good space, and we’re ready to just keep moving this forward,” Shields said.
Shields agreed to sit down with Diamant inside APD’s Joint Operations Center: The Super Bowl LIII security war room.
At the operations center, leaders from dozens of federal, state and local agencies use incoming intelligence to guide missions involving thousands of law enforcement boots on the ground working to keep crowds safe.
“We’ve been preparing for two years, so we are well prepared, so now it’s a relief that we’re finally in a position where we can execute on what we’ve been practicing so hard at," Shields said.
“Leading up to the event there’s a bit of kind of nervous energy I think, but now that we’re what we’ll call operational, it’s just awesome to see and it actually has me more relaxed than I ever thought I’d be going into the game," federal security coordinator Nick Annan said.
But with a lot confidence, still, there's a bit of caution.
"You don’t relax, but I feel as though we have the right people in the right places, so we can jump on things if something does arise,” Shields said.
The federal government wants to make clear that airspace over downtown Atlanta will be restricted starting Thursday and continuing through the game -- not just for planes and helicopters, but also for drones. Violators will face huge fines and possible jail time.
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