Coons weighs in on Super Bowl security

Gary Coons (WISH Photo)

Gary Coons is one of the countless people who will never forget the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

“It was probably one of the most exciting weeks I’ve ever worked,” he said.  “While one of the most stressful weeks too, because you want to make sure nothing goes wrong and everybody has a good time.”

Coons is the Homeland Security Director for Indianapolis. He remembers the challenges of ensuring a safe event — from the opening of the Super Bowl Village through the game itself.

“It really went very well.  I mean, we had some minor incidents — like any special event you do.”  But, he says, “once the game starts, it’s like a Colts game.”

The Indianapolis security team did have something different, though.   Something he demonstrated for 24-Hour News 8 using a lap top.   It was a software program.

He was skeptical when he first saw it.

“And we’re like, ‘yeah, if you can get that to work, that would be a miracle.’  And, it was a miracle.  ha ha ha.”

The system was immensely valuable here in 2012 — and still is.

“We’re able to see almost everything going on,” said Coons.

In 2012, they called it the “Digital Sandbox.”  Now, it goes by the name “Haystack.”  Either way,  It lets police monitor a variety of sources — to keep track of people and incidents around a special event.

“It was an amazing tool.  It brought everything into one platform.  So it made it easier for us, where we wasn’t watching multiple screens and multiple different things going on.”

This weekend’s Super Bowl events will be monitored by the same system — as was last year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans — largely because of its success in Indianapolis.

“They gave us a huge compliment,” he said, “saying that: we want out system like yours.  We want everything you guys were doing.  We want that.  So that was a huge compliment.  We’re pretty proud of that.”

Coons said the security team in New York and New Jersey invited Indianapolis to send someone east for this weekend.  He said because of priorities in Indianapolis, that wasn’t possible.  So, Indianapolis shared most of its advice over conference calls.

Now, he wishes his colleagues out east the same good luck Indianapolis had.

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