On February 5, a great American tradition returns to the gridiron in the form of Super Bowl LI – the 51st National Football League championship. The New England Patriots will meet the Atlanta Falcons at the NRG Stadium in Houston in a matchup expected to draw nearly 140,000 visitors and millions of television viewers around the world.
Behind the scenes, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been working for months with our state and local law enforcement partners to make sure that the various venues and events associated with the Super Bowl are safe and secure. More than 160 CBP officers and agents will be on hand to help local law enforcement.
Using state-of-the-art technology, CBP officers use Non-Intrusive Inspection technology to screen tons of commercial deliveries. They examine vehicles, containers, packages, and merchandise to make sure that none of it contains any hazardous materials, explosives, weapons, or other harmful substances. We help provide security at the stadium as well as at key hotels and practice fields, and lending out expertise to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s SWAT teams.
Overhead, CBP’s Air and Marine Operations (AMO) will use fixed and rotary-wing aircraft to patrol the skies. AMO will monitor the nation’s airspace and enforce the Federal Aviation Administration’s Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) zone. Before and during the game, AMO will provide vital, real-time aerial video to ground-based law enforcement personnel, increasing their situational awareness.
These functions are all part of our national security mission. But CBP also has an important role to play in protecting our economic security. Super Bowl merchandise is an appealing target for counterfeiters. CBP works closely with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to seize fake jerseys, caps, and other phony memorabilia that violate intellectual property rights.
Those “interceptions” – whether they are potentially hazardous substances, counterfeit products, or aircraft that violate the TFR – are just as important as the ones celebrated in the end zone.
Safeguarding the Super Bowl is no game; it is serious business and it is part of our mission to ensure our country’s national and economic security. We’ve worked closely with the City of Houston, Harris County, NRG Stadium, and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, and I am proud of the important part CBP plays in protecting this landmark annual sporting event.