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Security at Super Bowl Tight

Janet Napolitano, right, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, answers a reporter's question during an NFL Super Bowl Security news conference in Dallas, Texas, January 31, 2011

As Super Bowl fans and the international media stream into Dallas for the U.S. National Football League championship, federal authorities are guarding against a possible terrorist attack. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency is watching from the air and on the ground, as they have at Super Bowls since the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001.

It’s been the talk of the town the week before Super Bowl XLV – freezing temperatures mixed with ice and snow. It's not ideal weather for the biggest sporting event in America

But National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell gives the organizers high marks for the way they are handling the inclement weather ahead of popular American sporting event.

"I think the most important lesson is that you have to be prepared for anything, and North Texas was prepared if this happened,” said Commissioner Goodell.

But nothing could have prepared visitors for the amount or duration of the bad weather. It has affected everything, from planned events to parties, and has slowed traffic in the region considerably.

But one thing it hasn’t affected is security.

"We’ve had our inspection systems out,” said Jeffrey Baldwin of U.S. Customs Border Protection Agency. “They’ve been operating since last Monday, so we’re still continuing to do what we need to do for this mission."

Part of Jeffrey Baldwin’s mission as the director of field operations for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency is overseeing the work of his agents inspecting the massive amounts of cargo entering the Super Bowl site.

Using large scanners, they inspect vehicles bringing materials to Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

"A lot of what we are doing is behind the scenes,” said Baldwin. “All of the trucks and containers that are going into the stadium are being X-Rayed by us. So we have an opportunity to look at those images. If we see some anomalies, we refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agencies and they will do their inspections."

The presence of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at major events like the Superbowl is part of an increased security effort in place since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

"We’ve got approximately 150 officers, agents, and airmen out amongst our complex," Baldwin added.

Along with officers from other law enforcement agencies, CBP agents stand watch over one of the largest attended and most watched events in the United States.

But Baldwin admits his officers can’t catch everything using scanners. He encourages the public to take an active role in security.

"For national security, it’s not just your fellow law enforcement,” he said. “I think the public has an opportunity to help us. When you can see something, and you say something, it gives us an opportunity to respond."

"We are simply asking the American people to be vigilant,” said U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. “Recognizing that security is our shared responsibility."

At a press conference to talk about creating a safe Super Bowl environment, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the "if you See Something, Say Something" campaign has worked in the past.

"We saw it with the Times Square bomber last spring, where a street vendor brought it the authorities attention that smoke was coming out of a vehicle, we saw it recently on MLK Day (Martin Luther King) in Spokane," Secretary Napolitano said.

If the "See Something, Say Something" campaign is effective in North Texas, Super Bowl XLV may not only set an attendance record of about 105,000 people, it could also be the safest.

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    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.