They’ll be on foot. In cars. On horseback and in the air.
But don’t fret over the large law enforcement presence expected to blanket Thursday’s Super Bowl parade, officials say: Securing massive public events is becoming a regular occurrence for Philadelphia, even if celebrating an Eagles
Super Bowl championship is unprecedented.
“This city works as a team,” Police Commissioner Richard Ross said this week. “And this is why we always have success with this.”
Ross, speaking to reporters Tuesday, said he views policing the parade as a challenge different from the one posed by Sunday night’s impromptu celebrations, when tens of thousands of fans — many intoxicated — poured out of bars and
residences and jammed Broad Street for nearly a mile.
When Thursday arrives, he said, parade-watchers will be packed behind barricades lining the police route, allowing officers and emergency service personnel space to more quickly reach trouble spots. The crowd also likely will include more families than Sunday’s throngs, which Ross said were largely made up of people in their 20s.
“It’s not like an open celebration where people are just occupying the streets,” Ross said. “This is a different dynamic.”
Still, the department drew some lessons from Sunday’s celebrations to bolster a response plan that they have deployed at major events like the Phillies’ 2008 World Series parade and Pope Francis’ Parkway procession during his visit to the city in 2015.
Unlike the latter event, officers won’t be searching bags, and revelers won’t be asked to pass through magnetometers before reaching the parade route. The Secret Service spearheaded that tactic when securing the papal visit, which was the highlight of an international event that drew dignitaries from across the globe.
“We don’t do that for other parades,” Ross said. “But there will be people out there being vigilant and watching the crowds – police personnel specifically trained to look out for anything suspicious.”
Speaking at a news conference Wednesday, Mayor Kenney warned that officers would not tolerate the type of vandalism and property damage that broke out during some of Sunday night’s celebration.
“You will be arrested if you try that,” he said. “The key is people need to behave.”
As is typical with large-scale events, federal authorities have offered to provide personnel, resources, and intelligence to back up Philadelphia police and mitigate security threats. But officials, wary of letting their tactics be used against them, generally do not offer specifics about how many officers will be deployed in which areas and from which agencies.
Ross said police will be on hand, first and foremost, to secure public safety, along with personnel from the Fire Department, the Office of Emergency Management, and other agencies such as the State Police.
And he encouraged the public to enjoy the festivities — safely.
“It’s going to be a historic day,” he said. “One that we suspect people will truly enjoy.”
Staff writer Claudia Vargas contributed to this article.