Monday, June 23, 2014, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) as Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, along with Chairwoman Susan W. Brooks (IN-05), hosted a field hearing entitled: "Mass Gathering Security: A Look at the Coordinated Approach to Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey and Other Large Scale Events."
The National Football League (NFL) has the highest game attendance of any domestic professional sports league in the world, drawing over 68,400 spectators per game for its most recently completed season in 2013. Its largest widely-attended event is the Super Bowl, which had an attendance of more than 82,000 spectators at Metlife Stadium on February 2, 2014. And it is a testament to the coordinated efforts that such a massive event occurred without incident.
"The success of the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey is a credit to over a decade's worth of building preparedness and response capabilities at the local and State level with Homeland Security Grant investments, and a year-and-a-half of coordination, planning, and exercise among Federal, State, and local law enforcement and first responders alongside the private sector," said Rep. Payne, Jr. "The opportunity to share best practices and lessons learned are invaluable to not only New Jersey, but for future mass gathering events. As we look to the future of mass gathering security and face emerging threats, I hope that the nation will look to New Jersey as the shining example for coordinated emergency preparedness and response efforts between the private sector and all levels of government for large-scale events."
"Today's hearing demonstrated how a successful mass gathering requires a coordinated approach to security," said Rep. Brooks. "Our witnesses confirmed this by describing their approach to several large events such as Super Bowl 48 and the Indianapolis 500. The hearing suggested that the most notable area in need of improvement was the sharing of lessons learned and best practices across disciplines, events and venues. As the Chairwoman of the Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee, I look forward to working on this issue with my Ranking Member, Mr. Payne, Jr. and the rest of the subcommittee."
"Hosting such a large scale event in the tri state area presents a unique set of challenges and requires the coordinated efforts of all levels of law enforcement," said Rep. Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), an original member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. "While reports of delays experienced by attendees led to frustration and disappointment, we should use this as an opportunity to learn and be better prepared for future events. Together we must ensure that the safety of the people of New Jersey remains a priority and that our first responders have all available resources to maintain security. I'd like to thank Chairwoman Brooks and Ranking Member Payne for holding this important hearing and for inviting me to participate."
Preventing, preparing for, and responding to a terrorist attack or other disaster at a sporting event requires close coordination between Federal, State, and local authorities. Venue owners, sporting associations, and event promoters have worked together with Federal, State, and local law enforcement and emergency managers to develop, implement, and exercise plans to counter the evolving threats posed for more than 18 months prior to the Super Bowl.
In November 2013, Congressman Payne, Jr. led a New Jersey delegation-briefing to learn about Federal security preparations surrounding the 2014 Super Bowl. Two months later, Rep. Payne, Jr. participated in a site visit at MetLife Stadium where the State Police briefed the Congressman on coordinated security efforts -- with entities ranging from the Federal government, to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to local governments throughout the region.
"At each of these briefings, I was impressed by the degree of planning and coordination across all levels of government and jurisdictions. By the time the Super Bowl arrived, I was very confident in the preparations that had taken place, and I commend the NFL, MetLife Stadium, and all our first responders at every level of government for a successful event," added Rep. Payne, Jr.