As football fever approaches, University police are prepping for the unexpected.
As part of a larger initiative, the University of Minnesota Police Department hosted a soft-shooter training Tuesday at Coffman Memorial Union, where officers learned how to diffuse possible active shooters at the upcoming Super Bowl. The training marks just one part of the force’s collaboration with other local safety departments and federal agencies.
Like much of the security prep, the training was highly sensitive, said UMPD Police Chief Matthew Clark, and focused on hands-on techniques and drills. For extra room, the UMPD cornered off some of the green space behind Coffman.
Clark said in addition to UMPD, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department, the Minneapolis Fire Department, Metro Transit Police, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and others attended the training.
“I think it just shows there’s a real collaboration between agencies in the metro… not just for events,” Clark said. “We really help each other out.”
MPD employs about 800 officers and needs the assistance surrounding departments and sheriffs to build enough manpower for the event, said UMPD Lieutenant Chuck Miner.
Such collaboration isn’t unheard of in the city, Miner said, given MPD and UMPD’s close work relationship.
The two departments work together frequently, especially for large events like Vikings games. Miner said such events, though stressful, are sometimes easier to prepare for as they are contained and preplanned, and police can often predict possible hazards.
But the Super Bowl is on a different level.
“Because it’s just in such a national limelight,” he said, “it just sort of ups the ante as far as the level of seriousness, level of intensity.”
Given the size of the game and its international fame, the departments are working with federal agencies, like the FBI and U.S. Secret Service, Miner said.
The web of collaborating agencies is organized by the NFL security department, Clark said, guiding the departments with information gained from past Super Bowls.
Though planning for the Super Bowl began months, even years ago, there’s still much to be determined, he said.
Manpower will be needed at the game itself, but officers will still need to patrol campus as usual, as well as provide security for other Super Bowl-related activities on campus.
MPD and UMPD will also share resources. UMPD’s bomb dogs will help check the stadium, while MPD may need to send officers with specialized skills, like bomb technicians, to help with unforeseen campus challenges.
“It takes a lot of coordination and management of where all the pieces need to go,” Clark said. “But at the end of the day, it’s a football game, right?”