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  4. Written testimony of ICE for a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, & Communications hearing titled “Mass Gathering Security: A Look at the Coordinated Approach to Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey and Other Large Scale

Written testimony of ICE Homeland Security Investigations - Newark Special Agent in Charge Andrew McLees for a House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications field hearing titled “Mass Gathering Security: A Look at the Coordinated Approach to Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey and Other Large Scale Events”

Release Date: June 23, 2014

Newark, New Jersey


Chairwoman Brooks, Ranking Member Payne, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee:

As the Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Newark, I would like to thank you for inviting me to share with you information about the role of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in supporting the comprehensive efforts to safely secure mass gatherings and large-scale public events in the United States. Specifically, I would like to discuss my role as the Federal Coordinator assigned to be the primary federal point of contact for facilitating coordinated federal planning efforts for Super Bowl XLVIII.

As part of this important effort, I was honored to work alongside the gentlemen sitting with me today, Lt. Colonial Ed Cetnar of the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) and Chief Louis Koumoutsos of the Port Authority Police Department, in our collective mission to ensure that the Super Bowl was free from any significant security incident before, during, and after the game.

DHS’s Role in Security Efforts for Super Bowl XLVIII

In November 2012, then-Secretary Napolitano appointed me to serve as the Federal Coordinator for Super Bowl XVLIII, which was played on February 2, 2014, at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Over the course of the following 18 months, DHS played an instrumental role in preparing for and supporting the security efforts for the Super Bowl. As the Federal Coordinator, I worked in partnership with two Deputy Federal Coordinators: James Mottola, Special Agent in Charge for the United States Secret Service (USSS) in Newark, and Frank Westfall, Regional Director for the Office of Infrastructure Protection within DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD). I served as the Secretary’s representative and primary federal point of contact for facilitating coordinated federal planning in support of the event’s incident command and the New Jersey State Police (NJSP).

As part of the Special Security Events yearly planning process, DHS requests that all state and local governments submit information related to any special events taking place within their jurisdiction for the following year. Using an algorithm that incorporates information provided by the state and local jurisdictions, such as attendance, facility type and iconic value among other measures, the event is designated on a scale known as the Special Event Assessment Rating (SEAR) 1 through 5. A National Special Security Event (NSSE) is not evaluated and designated in the same manner. NSSEs are assessed based upon a separate data submission provided by the lead state and/or local agency on behalf of the Governor of the state in which the event is held. The Super Bowl is annually designated as a SEAR 1, which is the highest rating other than that of an NSSE.

The Super Bowl XVLIII Federal Coordination Team was responsible for coordinating the integrated planning for and use of federal resources from over 30 federal agencies across the spectrum of prevention, protection, response and recovery,. Members of the Federal Coordination Team were pre-staged to perform their role as advisors to local incident command at key command and control centers prior to and during the event, including the NJSP Public Safety Compound, the NJSP Venue Incident Command Post, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Joint Operations Center (JOC), and Intelligence Operations Center (IOC), as well as the stadium. In the event of an incident, my role as the Federal Coordinator would have been to serve in an advisory capacity to the NJSP.

The Federal Coordination Team was directly supported by the DHS Office of Operations Coordination and Planning, Special Events Program, based in Washington, D.C. This group is responsible for the risk assessment process, federal interagency information sharing, and support resourcing for special events. In addition, they also provide the structure and subject matter expertise to assure Federal Coordinator consistency and provide the conduit to the Secretary, DHS, and the federal interagency through the Special Events Working Group.

Federal Coordination and Operational Efforts Supporting the Event

Federal Coordination Team. During the planning process, the Federal Coordination Team was embedded with the NJSP and acted in consultation with the NJSP Incident Command. It was our responsibility to ensure that the appropriate federal support was provided in response to requests for assistance from federal, state and local partners. It is important to underscore the mechanisms by which the Federal Coordination Team coordinated the use of DHS and other federal assets because it highlights the best practice of a diverse team with strong, local relationships. The responsiveness of DHS and the Team was an important message we wanted our security partners to have throughout the process.

The needs of the NJSP in addressing this mass gathering were identified in one of two ways. One method was in “walking the ground” and working alongside our NJSP partners. This enabled the Federal Coordination Team to better understand and identify the vulnerabilities facing the event, and make known the spectrum of federal resources available. The other method was derived during the pre-incident planning process and resulted in direct NJSP requests for assistance to the Federal Coordinator.

One example of a direct request that I received from the NJSP was to facilitate the establishment of a temporary flight restriction zone in the vicinity of MetLife Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday. I was able to accomplish this by coordinating with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which controls the airspace; the Department of Defense, which is responsible for air defense; and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations, which provided assets to conduct low and slow air intercept operations and patrol the critical rail link between Secaucus Junction and MetLife Stadium in support of New Jersey Transit.

CBP. CBP supplied aircraft equipped with video downlink feeds of the venues to the Public Safety Compound, the Regional Operations Intelligence Center and the Intelligence Operations Center, all coordinated with the NJSP Aviation Unit. This allowed public safety officials appropriate situational awareness in order to address crowd control, traffic and other incidents. Diversion airports were identified outside the restricted zone to divert violators of the flight restriction where they would be met by FBI Special Agents and TSA Federal Air Marshals. At the request of the NJSP, I coordinated with the CBP Office of Field Operations to initiate Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) operations in order to screen cargo and vehicles destined for secure Super Bowl venues through non-intrusive inspection technology. In addition, CBP provided support to FBI tactical teams.

USCG. Existing professional relationships and knowledge of available resources allowed for coordination informally. For instance, there was a request to establish a maritime security environment to secure the waterways adjacent to various Super Bowl venues. This was accomplished between the NJSP Marine Unit and the U.S. Coast Guard, which already work side-by-side on a daily basis year round.

TSA. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provided assets to ensure the overall efficiency and safety of fans by staffing the event from a rail transit perspective, as well as assigning additional personnel to assist with the mass outflow of travelers the day after the game through local airports. TSA’s Federal Air Marshals assisted in securing the event by assigning marshals to ride the mass transit system, performing the same role as they do in the aviation environment. TSA also assigned Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams in critical transfer and origination rail stations.

ICE. The federal government assisted in addressing criminal enterprises related to the Super Bowl. There were three key areas that federal law enforcement committed significant resources: addressing the threat to cyber security; investigating human trafficking; and the protection of intellectual property. I will defer to my colleague from the FBI who can speak about the efforts related to human trafficking because there was a concerted federal, state and local effort in combating this crime surrounding the event.

While my agency worked with the FBI on human trafficking, our efforts in the criminal enterprise realm were primarily related to counterfeit National Football League (NFL) merchandise and counterfeit game tickets. In September 2013, ICE initiated Operation Team Player, a multi-agency initiative in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies and the NFL. This operation was designed to combat intellectual property rights violations that are typically associated with large-scale sporting events. In July 2013, for example, HSI Newark worked in coordination with the ICE-led Intellectual Property Rights Center, the NFL and other professional and collegiate sports leagues to host training for over 200 federal, state and local officers who also enforce intellectual property violations.

During the operational period leading up to the game, HSI Newark led daily enforcement operations targeting the sale of counterfeit NFL apparel, merchandise, and Super Bowl tickets. National enforcement operations resulted in the seizure of over 350,000 items with an estimated retail value of $37 million and 76 arrests. HSI Special Agents also investigated the sale of counterfeit Super Bowl tickets, and seized 163 counterfeit tickets valued at approximately $170,000.

USSS. In addition to the appointment of Special Agent in Charge Mottola as the Deputy Federal Coordinator for this event, the USSS assigned other personnel to provide training and conduct threat assessments for all critical infrastructure components connected to the event, including MetLife Stadium. They also were assigned to Cyber Response Teams before and during the event with the capability to address a cyber-related attack on any entity connected to the Super Bowl.

The USSS assigned personnel from the Protective Intelligence and Assessment Division who reviewed open-source information that provided real-time awareness on public safety matters that could have adversely impacted the game. The USSS Uniformed Division officers provided magnetometer training to the private security services manning the check points at MetLife Stadium. Additionally, the USSS was responsible for coordinating the protective advance for former President Clinton, who attended the game.

FEMA. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was another key partner. FEMA personnel were onsite, prepared to coordinate federal resources, in support of state and local response efforts, in mitigating the consequences of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. As part of its responsibilities, FEMA personnel led the planning for such a contingency.

DHS Headquarters. At the DHS Headquarters level, NPPD supported the effort of minimizing risk to critical infrastructure through identification, assessment and monitoring of threats and vulnerabilities in the designated geographical areas of responsibility in support of the Super Bowl.

Deputy Federal Coordinator Westfall was the lead field representative for NPPD’s Office of Infrastructure Protection supporting the security planning and other preparedness efforts. He facilitated or completed 25 facility security surveys, vulnerability assessments, Computer-Based Assessment Tools and Cyber Security Resilience Reviews on key event venues and supporting infrastructure, including MetLife Stadium, the MetLife Sports Complex, and the Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE&G) East Rutherford Switching Station.

The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) deployed intelligence personnel who provided analytic support, facilitated information exchange and assisted event leadership in developing and prioritizing protective and support measures for Super Bowl pre-event and event intelligence, information sharing and planning. In addition, I&A conducted classified and unclassified cyber engagements in November 2013 with the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, the Federal Coordination Team for the Super Bowl, the NJSP Incident Command, and the New Jersey Cyber Cell, including the New Jersey Homeland Security Advisor, Fusion Center Director, and private sector partners. These engagements enabled Federal, state, local, and private sector stakeholders to improve cybersecurity and increase cyber resilience prior to the event. I&A also maintained a secure communication facility at the Public Safety Compound during game. Other DHS Headquarters elements, including the Office of Science and Technology, the Office of Domestic Nuclear Detection and the Office of Health Affairs, provided technical support to the event.

Federal Partners. Outside of DHS, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Weather Service all provided additional support and specific expertise to our efforts.


ICE and the other Operating Components and Headquarters elements of DHS, are committed to supporting our federal, state, local and private-sector partners to ensure the safety and security of future mass gatherings and large-scale public events held in the United States. We will work together to provide security, consequence management and law enforcement resources so that these events are incident-free and successful. We will build upon the success of our involvement in providing resources in support of prior Super Bowls, the recent Indianapolis 500 race, and other previously-held events, and will continue to impart our lessons learned for the safety and security of all future mass gatherings.

In addition to Colonel Fuentes of the NJSP and SAIC Ford of the FBI here in Newark, I would also like to recognize and thank the NJSP Incident Command, Lt. Colonial Ed Cetnar, as well as Major Kevin Fowler and Major Bob Yaiser. I was proud to work alongside these dedicated law enforcement professionals who provided superior leadership, expertise and camaraderie that resulted in a well-organized and incident-free Super Bowl.

Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today and for your continued support of DHS, ICE and all the agencies that contributed to protecting the Super Bowl. I would be pleased to answer any questions.

Last Updated: 10/06/2022
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