NEW ORLEANS — A New Orleans police force famed for its crowd control prowess is getting help from state and federal authorities as the city hosts an estimated 150,000 Super Bowl fans while preparing for the raucous buildup to Mardi Gras, which also draws thousands to the historic French Quarter and its restaurants, bars and strip clubs.
The security challenges began in earnest Friday night with the first of the city’s major float-filled Mardi Gras season parades. This week, the parade schedule is on hold while the Super Bowl takes center stage. Mardi Gras preparations resume once Sunday’s game is over, and the parades roll again starting Wednesday.
The city’s police force of 1,200 officers is bolstered this week by more than 200 Louisiana State Police troopers and hundreds of federal authorities from several agencies.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was in town for a Wednesday news conference outlining security precautions, including Immigrations and Customs Enforcement scans of cargo shipped to the game site and Coast Guard work to assure maritime safety and security along the Mississippi River. Game-day plans will include flight restrictions in the airspace near the Superdome, pat-down searches of ticket holders and the use of dogs to sniff out contraband.
Michael Anderson, head of the FBI’s New Orleans office, said no credible terrorism threats have arisen.
“This week, there is no safer place to be than the city of New Orleans,” added Raymond Parmer, a special agent with ICE.