The San Francisco Police Department has been vigilant and vocal about its efforts to ensure The City is safe during events related to Super Bowl 50. (courtesy photo)

Law enforcement on watch as football fans descend on S.F.

While this year’s Super Bowl will be played more than 40 miles away from San Francisco, fallout from the game in the form of massive crowds and giant parties is expected to land right here in The City.

But law enforcement and public safety agencies are ready for the masses, and the potential hazards they bring.

Whether a terrorist attack or natural disaster — or nothing of that nature at all — strikes during the nine days that Super Bowl City will occupy Justin Herman Plaza, the Department of Emergency Management and police and fire departments have plans to ensure public safety.

“Obviously events around the world have us focusing a lot on making it as safe as we possibly can,” Police Chief Greg Suhr told reporters near the Chinatown Dragon Gate on a recent Friday.

Shane Francisco, assistant deputy fire chief, agreed with Suhr.

“The dynamics of the attacks are always different but we generally are very well prepared here,” Francisco told the San Francisco Examiner in a recent phone call.

Last August, DEM began to coordinate a series of exercises between police, fire and other services, testing their responses to various scenarios. In December, the departments had a “bad day” exercise where they played out their responses to a cyberattack, suspicious package and active shooter, among other scenarios, said DEM spokesperson Francis Zamora.

Zamora said DEM activated an Emergency Operating Center out of their dispatch center near Hayes Valley on Jan. 30, where representatives from each city department and state and federal agencies are set to work together until Feb. 7. The EOC is often activated for large-scale events like Bay to Breakers and Pride, as well as during emergencies like the Asiana airplane crash.

Francisco said the fire department is playing a background role in Super Bowl plans. It will provide emergency medical, fire prevention and safety inspection services as needed, as well as perform technical rescues and handle hazardous materials if necessary.

“Our job in the fire service is we kind of respond to things,” Francisco said. “If nothing happens you don’t see us. We kind of just hang out there.”

The eight to 10 staff members scheduled to work at Super Bowl City and 12 to 14 staff members at the NFL Experience — a paid event at Moscone Center — won’t interrupt fire services to the rest of The City, Francisco said.

“The goal here is to not impact our 911 system,” he said. “So for those venues we will hire overtime to staff those for the services that we need.”

Police Cmdr Timothy Falvey said at a Police Commission meeting last month that there will be no reduction to staffing at any of the district stations. The department will be all hands on deck, Falvey said, with no discretionary time off for those nine days.

S.F. Examiner Staff Writer Jonah Owen Lamb contributed to this report.


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