Years of security preparation for Super Bowl LI

- It is referred to as layered security. You will see a heavy police presence, of course, but the goal is to find threats and put a stop to attacks long before they even reach the Houston area.

It began years ago and far away, because it takes more than one to make a conspiracy. Federal agents and Houston police have been monitoring online social media chatter.

"We have to monitor everything going on across the United States and Europe 'cause those type of events can affect the games in Houston," said George Buenik with the Houston Police Department. He is leading the Super Bowl LI security effort.

Although police presence will be significant during Super Bowl week, the belief is that the most effective way to stop an attack is to disrupt it before it is carried out. There is a relatively new threat that is making that goal more of a challenge.

"We always have to be wary about some kind of lone wolf attack that doesn't pop up on anyone's radar screen that wants to do something silly," adds Buenik. Lone wolves like Micah Johnson, who shot and killed five police officers in Dallas. He was an African-American Army veteran apparently enraged by the police killings of black men. But there are plenty of good reasons to keep up with what's going on around the world as well that can impact the Houston area as the French learned all too well.

Terrorists launched a series of coordinated attacks in Paris in November 2015. First, suicide bombers attacked a stadium during a soccer match, followed by several mass shootings and a suicide bombing at cafés and restaurants followed. Then another mass shooting where people were held at hostages during a rock concert. ISIS claimed responsibility.

Buenik also says police have been working closely with federal law enforcement agencies. He won't go into details but during Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco, agencies monitored radiation levels for possible dirty bomb attacks and air quality for chemical or biological threats.

Each Super Bowl host city learns from its predecessors.

HPD Lieutenant Chandra Hatcher leads the Visiting Public Safety Officials Committee, which is coordinating local and visiting police, fire, emergency and transportation agencies and keeping everyone on the same page.

"Since we've had the opportunity to see what other cities did ahead of us, it gave us a whole lot of information to move forward and help us put best practices in place," explains Lt. Hatcher.

The committee will make sure all those agencies are included in all the security briefings. With a new police chief for the City of Houston, will the security plan change or is Chief Art Acevedo satisfied with the preparations?

"Oh, we'll be ready," says Chief Acevedo. "We have a lot of special events in Texas and we'll be prepared for it. HPD is a great department. We'll be ready."

A good plan has to be flexible. The game is a few months away. Events can change and that could mean the plan will be tweaked, but chances are you won't know about it.

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