Weather and Security Concerns Put Super Bowl 56 Attendees on High Alert

Security Dogs on Patrol

Houston PD explosive detection dogs on patrol

Los Angeles, California is on high alert as all law enforcement is preparing for the Super Bowl at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California this Sunday.  According to a joint threat assessment obtained by CNN, many remain concerned about the sustained interest that the international and domestic terrorists, as well as lone offenders have in targeting all mass gatherings. However, the multiple federal, state and local agencies that contributed to this threat assessment, found “no information to indicate a specific, credible threat to or associated with” the well-publicized event.

This is not the first time that the Super Bowl will be held in Los Angeles, California. Super Bowl 56 will be the thirteenth Super Bowl played in California and the eighth to be played in Los Angeles. In fact, the Super Bowl of 1973 was also held in Los Angeles, and the 2003 game was in San Diego.  Residents and planned attendees have already expressed their gratitude that Stan Kroenke, the Los Angeles Rams owner, also known as Silent Stan, built the phenomenal, state-of-the-art SoFi stadium in Inglewood, California, which seats 70,240 people, for about $5 billion. This year, the Los Angeles Rams will face the Cincinnati Bengals at the innovative SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

There are other reasons for concern during Super Bowl LVI. With a forecast high in the mid- to upper-80s on Sunday in downtown Los Angeles, this could be the hottest Super Bowl on record, weather experts said. “Despite the fact that the calendar reads early February, the region is expected to record temperatures ranging from 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit from Wednesday through Sunday,” AccuWeather said. Typically, high temperatures in Los Angeles in early February are in the mid-60s.  The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory Tuesday for the rest of the week and into the weekend in the Los Angeles area. “Visitors from cold weather states not acclimated to the heat may be at a higher risk for heat-related illness,” the weather service warned. This unusual heat “has the potential for an increase in heat-related illnesses to the homeless, outdoor workers, those participating in outdoor activities, the elderly and infants,” the Weather Service in Los Angeles said.  Attendees are well advised to take extra precautions and stay hydrated.  Fortunately for the Super Bowl, high-tech SoFi Stadium can maintain cooler temperatures inside the indoor-outdoor venue, so fans and players won’t be subjected to the worst of the heat during the game.

However, due to the extremely high concentration of attendees and significant media attention the event will receive, the Super Bowl LVI is a potentially attractive security target, according to the assessment of the international terrorism threat.  ISIS and other foreign terrorist organizations routinely promote attacks in Europe and the United States in their online messaging videos and publications, according to the report.

The February 3rd assessment is combined with the Department of Homeland Security’s national public terrorism bulletin, which warns that the spread of conspiracy theories and disinformation is fueling the “heightened threat” environment in the US. Furthermore, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday that there is no specific, credible threat to the Super Bowl.  Cyber criminals are typically attracted to target high-profile special events. Possible targets include spectators, sponsors, local governments and businesses, athletes and event organizers.  It is highly possible, according to the report, that cyber criminals could use a variety of tactics, techniques, and procedures, including ransomware, social engineering campaigns, denial-of-service attacks, network intrusions by point-of-sale, or malware to target the event.

Due to the differing locations each year for the popular annual event, all of the necessary perimeters and security plans must change with each new location and game. The fact of the matter is, according to Cathy Lanier, the NFL Chief Security Officer, “Of all the Super Bowls that I’ve worked, the biggest challenge here, really is just the enormity of this event, and all that goes along with such a massive stadium and campus.”  Homegrown violent extremists and unaffiliated lone offenders are a “particular concern.” The assessment says due to their ability to remain undetected until operational, their willingness to attack civilians and soft targets, and the ability to inflict significant casualties with minimal specialized knowledge, access or training.  “The Super Bowl, or any mass gathering event, remains an attractive target for hackers, criminals, and terrorists,” according to Brian Harrell, former assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at DHS.

In addition to the Secret Service, numerous agencies are involved in protecting the Super Bowl, including US Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Investigations, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the ATF, FBI, Department of Defense, as well as other local agencies, such as the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol. Additionally, the FAA designated the Los Angeles area a “No Drone Zone” for the Super Bowl, prohibiting all drones within a 30-nautical-mile radius of the stadium up to 18,000 feet in altitude from 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. PT on February 13.  A successful attack would likely receive widespread publicity, “a goal of many threat actors,” the assessment report states. Other potential threats include cybersecurity, food safety and criminal concerns, such as human trafficking, theft and fraud schemes.

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