Homeland Security says it will provide security assistance to Super Bowl despite shutdown

Posted at 7:07 PM, Jan 18, 2019

The Department of Homeland Security says it will still provide federal support to the Super Bowl this year, despite the partial government shutdown.

Super Bowl LIII -- an event that requires the support of more than 40 federal, local and state agencies -- takes significant federal support in order to be played, according to federal and local officials. The Atlanta Police Department and Department of Homeland Security will take the lead on security plans, officials say.

DHS press secretary Tyler Q. Houlton told CNN that, regardless of the shutdown, DHS and other federal agencies will be able to continue with plans for the Super Bowl.

"The Department takes the security of special events like the Super Bowl extremely seriously, and we continue executing our protection responsibility and supporting our local public safety partners for this event. The current lapse in government funding will have no effect on our commitment to assuring a safe and secure event," Houlton said in a statement to CNN.

This year's Super Bowl is scheduled to be played on February 3 in Atlanta. CNN has reached out to the National Football League about any security concerns related to the shutdown.

Any federal officials working on plans for the Super Bowl have been deemed essential and will not be paid until congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump come to a deal to reopen the government.

Other key agencies involved in security for the event include the FBI, the Secret Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the federal side, the George Bureau of Investigation, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia World Congress Center Authority Police and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency on the state side and the Fulton County Sheriff's Office, Atlanta Fire Rescue and Grady EMS on the local side.

"We are not disclosing numbers, except to say every Atlanta police officer will be on duty, working 12-hour shifts from January 26 to February 5," Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos told CNN.

Campos said the Atlanta Police Department is the lead agency and all other agencies are assisting it, "for which we are obviously very grateful," he added.

A DHS official told CNN that "an ICE official is the federal coordinating officer for this year's Super Bowl. All of DHS is involved."

The Super Bowl is different from an event such as the State of the Union or a major political event that could be the target of terrorism, but it still receives an extremely high security rating from the federal government. It is known as a "SEAR 1" event, one that "may require the full support of the United States Government," according to Coast Guard guidance. The event received the same designation last year, an official told CNN.

Each year, DHS rates large-scale events in the United States to determine a threat level and determine how much federal support each event receives, former DHS official Ed Cash tells CNN. Such events could include the State of the Union address, a Super Bowl, NASCAR races, the United Nations General Assembly or a papal visit.

An official said the State of the Union is a national special security event, with the US Secret Service taking the lead in conjunction with US Capitol Police and many other federal and local agencies.