Super Bowl 2012 Security Patrols Use Robots, Toxin Monitors, F-16s

Several federal agencies and the U.S. military will be patroling the Super Bowl.

February 03, 2012, 2:42 PM

Feb. 3, 2012— -- Weeks before this year's Super Bowl championship contenders were set, massive security teams were hard at work to secure the city of Indianapolis, deploying some of the most advanced defense technologies ever used at the big game.

The U.S. military, police and federal agencies, including NORAD and Customs and Border Protection, all have officers on the ground, who specialize in multiple types of emergency situations.

ABC News was granted exclusive access to the men and women whose jobs are to worry about the worst-case scenarios, from terrorist assaults to pickpockets.

Indianapolis is unique in some ways because almost all Super Bowl activities are downtown, not spread out over many venues as past Super Bowl events in other cities have been. With roughly 70,000 fans expected to watch the New York Giants face off with the New England Patriots this weekend, police estimate that more than 140,000 people will cram into the downtown area, which authorities said could be the highest concentration of people ever for a Super Bowl.

It's a convenient partying ground for fans, but also a rich target for terrorists.

Street crime is the most common problem and police are everywhere -- not just at Lucas Oil Stadium, but throughout the surrounding areas. Some officers patrol out in plain sight and others work undercover, blending in with the crowds to look for criminals. One undercover officer, who asked not to be identified, said his job is to look for people "trying to take advantage" of others.

"Your pickpockets, your stick-up crew, they will get into a large crowd to do their business," he said. "So our job, our unit, we go looking for those people."

Another primary concern is a bomb going off in a crowd. One of the security forces' special units is called a "HIT team," which conducts bomb sweeps, searching the massive crowd for explosives. During the week leading up to the Super Bowl, these sweeps were done continuously, 24 hours a day.

Kevin Stickford, the leader of the team, said he is very precise in what he is looking for and used the help of his police dog, Sonia, who is trained to only find explosives.

"We are always checking the trash cans, newspaper boxes, vehicles other than police cars out here, stage areas," he said.

Helicopters and planes equipped with special monitors for radiation and biological agents constantly hover and scan high above Super Bowl village. These aircraft are also prepared to deal with any unexpected aviation threat. There will be a 30-mile no-fly zone over the Indianapolis area and at least one aircraft has entered the no-fly zone during every Super Bowl since 2005.

While on a ride-along with a Customs and Border Protection helicopter, a pilot said that if an unidentified aircraft were to break airspace, they would first try to fly next to the plane to get the suspicious pilot's attention and radio to him that he has entered a restricted zone. The pilot's commander, Eric Rembold, said if the unidentified aircraft ignores the commands of the first responder aircraft, then U.S. military jets may be called in to resolve the issue.

"They will have F-16s flying in air combat patrol and they will deal with them accordingly," Rembold said.

In addition to air patrol, on the ground police use giant x-ray machines to scan every vehicle arriving at the stadium, and surveillance cameras, which allow officers to monitor both the interior and exterior of the stadium. The videos are streamed into command centers set up throughout the area nearby. Hidden monitors test the air for toxins and biological weapons, and police patrol with portable radiation detectors.

One of the most advanced technologies Indianapolis police deploy are five remote-controlled robots designed to handle bombs and other potential lethal substances. These machines weigh 135 pounds, with one 6-foot-tall big brother who weighs twice that, and come complete with cameras, a movable arm and a hand sensitive enough to open doors.

It's all done in preparation for the worst case scenario, and preventing the unthinkable.

"What happens if you have crime or a significant issue in the midst of three-, four-, five thousand people? How do you deal with that?" asked Frank Straub, the public safety director for the city of Indianapolis. "You always have to plan and think about the reality of terrorism exists in the world."

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