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Las Vegas ‘most prepared’ to handle Super Bowl, safety officials say

Updated February 7, 2024 - 7:49 pm

Law enforcement officials are being guided by lessons drawn from the Oct. 1, 2017, Route 91 Harvest festival mass shooting as they work to ensure the safety of revelers in Las Vegas for Super Bowl 58.

Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill said the mass shooting — the deadliest in modern history — has led to increased security elements for handling large events, such as New Year’s Eve and the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix.

For instance, he said, the Metropolitan Police Department now monitors front-facing hotel rooms, in light of how the Oct. 1 shooter broke out a window at Mandalay Bay to open fire on festivalgoers below, killing 60 people and wounding and injuring hundreds more.

‘Well-prepared for it’

“Obviously, I’m not going to divulge all the details, but absolutely (we work) with our resort property partners — they are a huge force multiplier for us — but also (with) the plans that we have with the DHS (Department of Homeland Security), the FBI, as well as our other local partners in the city, we’re well-prepared for it,” McMahill said Wednesday. Federal, state and local law enforcement officials are working to ensure the security for the Super Bowl and some 300 related special events.

Department of Homeland Security safety preparations for this week’s festivities began right after the 2023 Super Bowl in Arizona, according to Christopher Miller, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Las Vegas.

Earlier this week, Miller touted the long-running partnerships between Southern Nevada enforcement agencies, which regularly train alongside their federal counterparts for major events, such as New Year’s Eve festivities and the inaugural F1 race on the Las Vegas Strip.

“I’ve worked all over the United States, and Las Vegas is probably one of the most prepared cities to handle large events like this,” said Miller, a 21-year veteran with Homeland Security. “We train together, which is a huge advantage over a lot of places.”

So far, there’s been no chatter about any credible threat, he said.

“We’ve done everything possible for us to be able to stop that, know about it, hit it at its source before anything happens here,” Miller said, noting that DHS focuses on public safety, counterterrorism intelligence, human trafficking and counterfeit Super Bowl-themed merchandise.

The thousands of hotel rooms along the Strip present a challenge for public safety officials, but the NFL expressed confidence in the public safety efforts underway, especially with local law enforcement’s experience handling large events.

“The positive of that is that Las Vegas Metro deals with these large events all the time,” said Cathy Lanier, chief security officer for the NFL. “They’re very, very skilled with working with the private sector partners along the Strip and hospitality, resorts, casinos. There’s a really strong partnership here amongst the public and private agencies, so that has made it much, much easier.”

All hands on deck

Among the law enforcement assisting with Super Bowl security are 385 personnel from DHS, according to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

“They and all of us in the department, along with state, federal and local partners are working to ensure that the 65,000 people attending Super Bowl 58 and the millions of people gathering together to enjoy the game across the country are all safe,” he said.

Officials are carrying out operations to watch for weapons of mass destruction, and Customs and Border Patrol agents are screening any vehicle that enters the Allegiant Stadium campus for weapons, drugs and contraband, Mayorkas said.

Customs and Border Patrol and the Transportation Security Administration are conducting citywide aviation security, video surveillance and nonintrusive inspection of vehicles, cargo and people.

See something, say something

More than 75o personnel from multiple federal agencies, both in person and virtually, will play a role in keeping Las Vegas safe, said Spencer Evans, FBI special agent-in-charge, Las Vegas field office.

That will be a collaborative effort not only with state and local law enforcement, but also with residents and visitors, he said. Anyone spotting suspicious activity is urged to report it to authorities.

“Everyone has a role to play in making sure that Super Bowl 58 is secure,” Evans said. “If you see something, say something.”

The mammoth crowds expected at Allegiant Stadium and around the Las Vegas Valley should see a large uniformed law enforcement presence, Miller said.

Others won’t be as visible, he said.

“Just know there’s people that are not in uniform that are going to be out here in the community,” Miller said.

But law enforcement can still use the community’s help.

“Throughout the year, but especially with what’s going on in the world right now,” he said, “it’s everybody’s duty, if they see something suspicious — even if they’re not sure — we would rather know and allow trained professionals to go in there and investigate to make sure it’s not not a threat.”

Most times, those tips end up being unfounded, Miller said.

But still, he added, “Just pick up the phone, grab an officer or agent on the side of the street and let them know, and let us investigate.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X. Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com.

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