It’s a typical Santa Clara fire station as you drive by: white cinder block building, garage doors in front, pretty nondescript. But then you notice the police with shotguns guarding the parking lot entrance. Clearly, something vital was going on inside.
Just a few miles from Levi’s Stadium, this building housed a sophisticated command complex or JTAC, the Joint Tactical Action Center.
Planning for the center began six months ago and it went live just a week before the big game, explained William Montana, the fire department’s training officer who ran the operation.
The JTAC, one of three command centers in the area, was where CBP shared its expertise with elements of local, state and federal law enforcers and military staffers. It’s where ground and air assets were coordinated. The center also ensured the different agencies were communicating, the “big pipe” as it was called, explained Paul Kleine, a supervisory air interdiction officer. They ensured there were no surprises during Sunday’s Super Bowl game.
There were also civilian components working in the center, a weather service and utility company representatives, who monitored electrical networks to detect tampering.
Inside, rows of security personnel sat behind computers. Two wall monitors, one a monster 12 feet by 5 feet, showed real time video in different parts of the region. With just a click of a mouse on one of the monitor’s maps, a street view of that location would appear. Operators could advise law enforcement or even game officials traveling from their hotel to the stadium about any incident, such as traffic, an accident or a protest, for instance.
Emphasis was on surveillance for any terrorist threats, Kleine explained. “It was the smoothest operation I’ve seen,” he added. “There were no threatening incidents, but we had a few TFR violations.”
Temporary flight restrictions or TFRs are notices published by the FAA showing airspace where aircraft are prohibited from entering at certain times. The Super Bowl TFR violators were pilots flying small aircraft on recreational flights without proper planning, said Kleine.
Support was an important part of CBP’s role, said Tanai “Tony” Saefong, a supervisory officer at San Francisco International Airport assigned to the JTAC. He explained that could be anything from keeping communications flowing to obtaining equipment and supplies. “It was a success in that there were no incidents. However, we were ready to respond.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.