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Super Surveillance Sunday

February 1, 2009

Today is the annual ginornmous, mega sporting event/commercial extravaganza known as the Super Bowl. This year’s game is being held in Tampa Bay and features an intriguing “Dynasty vs. Doormat” plot line as the perennial also-ran Arizona Cardinals face the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are seeking to become the first NFL team to win 6 Super Bowls.

In addition to the game and off-the-field entertainment like a half-time show with Bruce Springsteen, Super Bowl 43 has an added interesting twist….

For the first time ever, officials from the Transportation Security Administration will be monitoring fans who attend the game.

As the USA Today explains,

Authorities at Super Bowl XLIII will be looking for more than just drunken fans. They’ll be watching spectators’ body language, facial expressions and demeanor to find suspicious people.

For the first time Sunday, federal behavior-detection officers will team with local police to use a controversial technique on people heading to a major event, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says. The officers usually work in airports.

Behavior observation aims to find people in crowds acting unusually. A flagged person gets a casual interview from an officer who determines if he or she should be formally questioned or arrested.

At the Tampa Police request, the TSA is sending dozens of its behavior officers to Tampa to watch spectators entering 75,000-seat Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, said Tampa Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. The TSA on Jan. 13 gave a four-hour training overview on behavior detection to 100 Tampa-area police, TSA operations chief Lee Kair said.

“They’ll be a dedicated set of eyes looking for suspicious behavior,” McElroy said of TSA officers.

Among the suspicious behaviors that TSA officers look for are “obvious signs of nervousness or other behavioral flags, such as sweating, avoiding eye contact or talking evasively.”

Maybe the NFL could add TSA “behavior observation” to its NFL Experience festival, where fans are treated to interactive, participatory events and games. Attractions at the NFL Experience could include:

  • Free autograph sessions with more than 50 NFL superstars –10,000 free autographs!
  • Kids, learn the skills of the game in the Play60 Youth Football Clinics!
  • Kids, learn the skills of randomly frisking Muslim or Arab-looking fans!
  • Donruss Super Bowl Card Show, the largest football card show ever!
  • Live television programming from the NFL Network!
  • Visit the Super Bowl Store for official Super Bowl XLIII merchandise! (Open Jan. 26 and 27, no ticket required)
  • Visit the men’s bathroom and monitor suspicious behavior flags like males who avoid eye contact while urinating.
  • See the Vince Lombardi Trophy up close!
  • Observe fat, sweaty guys in the concession line for their fourth order of “cheese nachos” up close!
  • Visit the Kids Zone for scaled down versions of the adult games!

It would be fan-friendly fun for the whole family, for kids from nine to ninety-nine!

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