MINNEAPOLIS – More than 400 Minnesota National Guard members supported security efforts in Minneapolis ahead of Super Bowl LII.
The game, played Sunday, resulted in a win by the Philadelphia Eagles against the New England Patriots, 41-33.
"This is what we do," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard. "When the local community can't meet the public safety needs, they come to the Guard. We're their normal partner, we're a natural partner, and we're their preferred partner when it comes to filling in the gaps that they can't fill."
At the request of the city, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton authorized the Minnesota National Guard to provide support to security efforts leading up to and during the game.
The Guard members provided direct support and worked alongside law enforcement officers from across the state. Like their civilian law enforcement partners, Minnesota Guard members focused on ensuring a safe experience for the residents and visitors who attended the Super Bowl festivities.
"So far in our opportunities to get out and visit with our Soldiers supporting this event, every Soldier has been extremely happy with the opportunity to serve our local communities," said Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas Wortham, senior enlisted advisor for the Minnesota National Guard. "Everywhere we've gone so far, members of the community have come up and thanked us for being here; they appreciate the visibility of the Guard supporting this event and they say they feel safer with us being here."
Minnesota Guardsmen regularly train for missions that involve support to civilian authorities and frequently train alongside civilian law enforcement agencies to build relationships and share best practices. Performing routine security tasks falls within the scope of the Minnesota National Guard, which frequently conducts perimeter security and traffic control at the direction of the governor during emergencies.
"It's been a great opportunity really to develop and continue relationships with all of the law enforcement agencies across the metro area, and the federal level as well," said Jensen. "This is an opportunity for us to work from the federal to the state to the local level, so it's been a great experience for us."
The Minnesota National Guard's involvement in Super Bowl LII was part of a coordinated response between local, state and federal agencies and is the result of months of planning and preparation.
"What's been key to our success is early involvement," said Jensen. "We were brought in very early to help plan. We participated in every group, every committee, that we could across the whole spectrum of the public safety mission. So, coming into the Super Bowl, we knew everybody and they knew us."
Most members of the Minnesota National Guard serve in the National Guard part time and go to school or work in communities across the state. When needed, they respond to help their neighbors and communities.
"We live here, we work here, we serve here," said Wortham. "So who better to support this type of event than the National Guard?"