Local officials, federal agencies, and military engineers went the whole nine yards in partnering with the National Football League (NFL) to enhance security for the 88th annual draft that concluded in late April.
In the months leading up to this year’s highly anticipated draft, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T); the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC); the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA); local officials; and the NFL collaborated to provide a safe venue for all participants and the public.
Specifically, the collaboration included the deployment of the Ready Armor Protection for Instant Deployment (RAPID) barrier and the Deployable Expedient Traffic Entry Regulator (DETER).
The RAPID barrier is a collapsible protective security product used for critical asset protection and intrusion prevention that stands up within 30 minutes. The DETER regulator is a barrier that protects critical assets and soft targets from vehicular attacks. It was designed for quick deployment and is adaptable to various lane widths, road surfaces, and environmental conditions.
“The NFL was proud to work with the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center to provide a safe and successful 2023 Draft,” said Cathy Lanier, Chief Security Officer at the NFL. “Deploying sensible technologies in coordination with trusted partners protects our fans and allows the experience to take centerstage. We look forward to continuing to work together at future NFL events.”
“CISA Region 7 was honored to be the location for this product launch,” said CISA Regional Director Phil Kirk. “Partnership is at the core of everything we do, from our on-the-ground support for security preparedness with our protective security program to rolling out new tools like the RAPID barrier. Together, we find ways to build resiliency that are deployable and successful.”
“Recent data indicates an upward trend in bomb threats year over year. As such, collaboration between public and private sectors is crucial to mitigating nefarious intentions of criminal or terrorist actors,” said Sean Haglund, Associate Director for CISA’s Office for Bombing Prevention (OBP). He added, “CISA OBP’s partnership with ERDC, DHS S&T, and the NFL exemplify the value of working together in a shared effort to secure our communities.”
“I am excited to see new technologies provide protection at mass gathering events such as the NFL Draft,” said Bart Durst, Director of the Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory at the U.S. Army ERDC. “I am very proud of the research teams and our collaboration with DHS S&T and CISA, providing this critical security capability for our nation.”
“The safety and security of athletes, fans, and stadium workers is of paramount importance for high-profile sporting events,” said Ali Fadel, DHS S&T Physical Security Program Manager. “Our collaborative efforts have strengthened our ability to assess security needs and implement a strategic approach to ensure the safety of everyone at the NFL Draft.”
Although the draft and similar sporting events have concluded without major incident, professional sports venues and games are no exception to threats. Open-source reporting has tracked numerous bomb threats, with suspicious packages found at athletic stadiums and other sports facilities in recent years. To combat these concerns, collaborative partnerships have increased transparency for security teams and remain critical to providing safe venues for participants and attendees.