Police to run Super Bowl security

By Seth Hettena
Friday September 27, 2002


SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has rejected a request to put the U.S. Secret Service in charge of security at the upcoming Super Bowl in San Diego, saying it has full confidence in local authorities, city officials said Thursday. 

Tom Ridge, the White House homeland security chief, told city officials this week that he was not granting their request to make Super Bowl XXXVII a National Special Security Event — a designation usually reserved for national political conventions and presidential inaugurations. 

Last year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans as well as the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City were both designated National Special Security Events in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. 

Instead, Ridge decided to put local police in charge of the Jan. 26 NFL championship game at San Diego’s 71,000-seat Qualcomm Stadium and related events throughout the city. The FBI, Secret Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state authorities will provide support. 

Under a new rating system created earlier this year, Super Bowl XXXVII will be a Special Event Readiness Level Two, Ridge told Mayor Dick Murphy late Wednesday. 

“He thought that Level Two was really appropriate for San Diego because, after having evaluated the situation, he thought the San Diego Police Department was so on top of this it was better to have them in charge,” Murphy said. 

Unaware of the brand new rating system, Murphy had requested the Secret Service handle Super Bowl security as a precaution. He said he was not disappointed by the decision. 

“We are going to be well prepared,” the mayor said. 

San Diego police were in charge of security at two previous Super Bowls at Qualcomm Stadium in 1988 and 1998. 

“It tells you the confidence the Department of Homeland Security has in this region and the work we’ve done in the past,” said Assistant Police Chief Bill Mayhew, who has been involved in security preparations for the past six months. “We as a community are very prepared for major events.” 

The city has budgeted more than $1 million for Super Bowl security.