Tuesday, January 27, 2009

'Behavior Detection' Experts To Boost Super Bowl Security

Via Tampa Bay Online -

If an officer asks if you need help on Super Bowl Sunday, he might be more than just gracious.

For the first time, the Transportation Security Administration's "Behavior Detection Officers" are enhancing security at the championship event by watching people for combinations of suspicious behavior.

"They're trained to do exactly that – pick people out of a crowd," Gary Milano, federal security director for the TSA's Tampa office, said today.

These officers don't have the power to arrest but are uniformed behavioral experts, Milano said.

The TSA and the U.S. Secret Service trained about 70 Tampa police officers and Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies working the event in their techniques. Milano described them as "telltale signs of people about to engage in wrongdoing" based on the Israeli security system.

Each behavior, such as profuse sweating, could be innocent on its own but raises eyebrows when coupled with other behaviors, Milano said. He declined to elaborate.

The officers evaluate the behaviors on a point system and approach a person for a chat to determine whether there's a need for concern, said Tampa police Maj. John Bennett, who was familiar with the TSA program and invited the agency to participate.

"Legally, you can walk up and just have a conversation," Bennett said, noting that the officers aim to keep the contact friendly.

Bennett said he asked for the TSA's help about a month ago, after he realized the "secure footprint" around the venue was similar to the security at a port or airport. "If you're inside the secure footprint, you either have a credential or a ticket," he said.

Bennett added that he had visited previous Super Bowls looking for ways to mirror or improve upon security. After a man was found armed with a rifle last year in a parking lot near the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, he saw the need for this layer of expertise.

"Our mission is to make a safe event," Bennett said. "If we can ask a few more questions … that's reasonable."

No comments:

Post a Comment