SuperSize Security

By Michael A. Gips


In the 1996 National Football Conference championship game between the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers, NFL security had the opposite concern--that visiting Panther fans wouldn't be prepared for the frigid temperatures in Wisconsin. By raising awareness through NFL public service announcements and by posting on-site medical teams, planners kept hypothermia problems to a minimum.

A potentially more severe weather problem in San Diego this year will be the effects of El Ni�o, which some predict may ravage the area in late January.

The security planning committee also took note of San Diego's large Hispanic population. To avoid potential problems with communication, especially in the event of a health or safety incident, translators will be assigned to each venue. "If medical people can't communicate, it's a problem," says Milton Ahlerich, the NFL's senior director of security.

Demonstrations present another concern. The intensive media presence at the game is a natural draw for protest groups, and the SDPD began preparing for that possibility early on. During the Republican National Convention--where sixty-four groups protested--the SDPD minimized disruption by giving permits to protest groups and providing them with a stage, a microphone, and a time slot. The process was orderly, Moratto says, with most groups behaving in a professional manner.

Based on this experience, Moratto is working beforehand with groups interested in protesting. If he finds groups wishing to protest, he says, the police will provide space near the stadium and materials to do so safely. As of press time, he had heard from "less than a handful" of such groups.


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