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NFL security mindful of Charlotte breach

San Francisco Police tactical unit officer Jeff McHale watches the crowd at Super Bowl City Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 in San Francisco. From ticket scalpers to terrorism, football's biggest game always presents challenges large and small for law enforcement officials. Their task is made more difficult by the location of Super Bowl 50, some 45 miles from downtown San Francisco, and a number of events throughout the sprawling Bay Area in the run up to the game in Santa Clara on Sunday. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
San Francisco Police tactical unit officer Jeff McHale watches the crowd at Super Bowl City Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 in San Francisco. From ticket scalpers to terrorism, football's biggest game always presents challenges large and small for law enforcement officials. Their task is made more difficult by the location of Super Bowl 50, some 45 miles from downtown San Francisco, and a number of events throughout the sprawling Bay Area in the run up to the game in Santa Clara on Sunday. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) AP

Though it is not on the official list of banned items at Levi’s Stadium for Sunday’s Super Bowl, rappelling gear won’t be allowed inside, the NFL said Wednesday.

Environmental protesters who hid ropes and climbing harnesses beneath their clothes went over the second-deck rail in a November “Monday Night Football” game at Bank of America Stadium and dangled above the crowd in the third-quarter, a first-of-its-kind demonstration during an NFL game. Four people were arrested.

“You can be assured that if we find anything like that on someone, they’re not going to get it into the stadium,” said Jeffrey Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president of security.

Miller said that stadium screening procedures focus on more urgent security threats like weapons or explosives. He said the league tries to strike a balance between ensuring security while not making the checkpoint experience too onerous to fans.

Miller said that the NFL command center was notified of the Nov. 2 breach almost immediately, before it was shown on television.

Jeh Johnson, U.S. secretary of Homeland Security, toured Levi Stadium in Santa Clara on Wednesday to inspect security arrangements for the game.

He said he had been in contact with his anti-terrorism counterparts in France since a series of attacks there, but intelligence agencies were aware of no credible threats to the Super Bowl.

“We learn from events of the past but we have to anticipate events of the future,” Johnson said.

Three years of security planning

Planning for security at the Super Bowl in the Bay area has been ongoing for three years, said Greg Surh, police chief of San Francisco. With about 100,000 visitors coming in for the event, he encouraged the public to notify authorities if they spotted anything suspicious.

“If you see something, say something,” he said, noting that the arrests of two escaped convicts in the city on Saturday were because a homeless man spotted the van they were using and notified police.

A heavy presence of San Francisco police officers has been on the streets of the city where Super Bowl activities and visitors have been centered all week. There have been only a few arrests, Surh said, “so far from people having a little too much fun.”

Television camera crews have been the target of robbers in San Francisco in at least two cases in recent months. Surh told TV reporters at the media center that if they notified police of plans to do stand-up reports on the street, authorities would ensure the presence of uniformed officers nearby.

About 4,000 temporary security and crowd-control workers have been hired to help with the Super Bowl, Miller said.

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007, @WashburnChObs

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