MARIETTA — Though it remains to be seen if the Atlanta Falcons can reach Super Bowl LIII in their home city, Cobb law enforcement are already set to suit up for the big game.
In a presentation to county commissioners Monday, several Cobb department heads highlighted a few of the efforts of the county’s Super Bowl task force as the event in neighboring Fulton County is expected to draw thousands of people here.
One prong of the county’s efforts will see Cobb Police and the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office strategically increase its operations within the county, but also provide manpower to venues in Atlanta, including Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which is hosting the game.
“Who is picking up that tab for that?” Cobb Chairman Mike Boyce asked after discussion on the sheriff’s office’s contribution.
County Manager Rob Hosack answered that the sheriff’s department was eyeing a possible reimbursement by the Super Bowl’s organizing committee.
“I’m not a big fan of that adjective ‘possible,’” Boyce responded. “They don’t come up here and help us with our baseball games.”
“Maybe next year during the World Series, they will?” chimed Commissioner Bob Ott, whose district includes the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park and mixed-use development known as The Battery Atlanta.
“I’m not going to hold my breath,” Boyce said.
Responded Ott, “I’m talking about the World Series.”
“I know what you’re talking about,” Boyce said. I’m sure we’ll have it (the World Series), I’m just saying…”
In an interview Friday, Cobb County Police Chief Mike Register said having other metro jurisdictions provide assistance to Cobb authorities during a World Series would be a “possibility.”
Cobb Police will support Atlanta and its Super Bowl by providing a 12-member tactical team — comprised of a K-9 team, two explosive ordnance disposal technicians and SWAT officers making up the remainder — starting 10 days before the Super Bowl, according to officials who gave Monday’s presentation.
The sharing of personnel, Register says, is part of his department’s participation in the Atlanta Urban Area Security Initiative, or UASI, a Department of Homeland Security grant program created in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Register said the Atlanta UASI is one of 29 such partnerships across the country.
“The metro-area jurisdictions, we sign a memorandum of understanding and when there’s, let’s say, natural disasters or man-made disasters, or big events that come into the metro area that has the potential for having some type of major public safety concern — we know that the Super Bowl not only draws a lot of fans but it also is a huge target as far as not only criminal elements but terrorist elements,” Register said. “So we augment through that agreement to go down to Atlanta.”
The 12 officers to be sent to Atlanta, Register said, represents a small portion of the 714 officers at which his department is authorized, and would not reduce the ability of the department to keep county residents safe as the Super Bowl brings an influx of activity and visitors.
“Cobb County is projected to be the second busiest county, (behind) the city of Atlanta and Fulton County, in reference to Super Bowl activity. I think we already have several thousand hotel rooms reserved,” he said. “We’re going to make sure we have not only the patrol entities that are prepared to maintain security and safety within the county, but we have our tactical elements that are going to be strategically placed and utilized to make sure we have the ability to induce any type of enhanced response that may come about.”
Under the same agreement, Register says, “if we need them to come up and assist us, there shouldn’t be any issue with that. Of course, they’ll have to determine the amount of resources to dedicate, just like I’m determining the amount of resources, because they asked for as many resources as possible, but in order to keep Cobb County safe and secure, this is all the resources I can give or am willing to give.”
Register said the cost to his department to send its 12 officers has not yet been determined, while Public Safety Director Sam Heaton gave a similar response to commissioners Monday after Boyce asked about the cost of the sheriff’s office’s assistance.
Heaton said deputies will be “working to support uniform officers in various locations, and also working with detention and the judicial staff in coordination, so if we do have some issues, hopefully it can be processed through the courts quickly.
Some of the department’s manpower will assist at the Super Bowl itself, Heaton added, though the final number of personnel to be used has not been determined.
COBB LINING UP MORE RESOURCES AROUND AIRPORT
As reported by the MDJ in October, Cobb’s airport is expected to see seven times the amount of traffic than it usually does, according to county officials.
Karl Von Hagel, manager of Cobb County International Airport-McCollum Field, previously said he is expecting about 800 corporate flights into and out of the county-owned airport starting on the Thursday before the Super Bowl.
Extra personnel are being brought on board for the additional flights in and out of the airport, which will have its own “Sky Club” paid for with the help of an approximately $40,000 grant from the Development Authority of Cobb County to the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and SelectCobb.
“(It) will allow us as people are leaving to go in and have a reception, and leave with a gift basket that is being provided by SelectCobb to help encourage them to bring their businesses here … let them know how we would welcome them, to have conversations with them about relocating their businesses or spreading their businesses into our county,” said Dana Johnson, who heads the county’s community development department. “They’re going to receive so much stuff the entire time they’re here in the Atlanta region that it would be better to give it to them at the end while they’re walking out the door, so it’ll be the last thing they have.”