INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hosting the entire NCAA men’s basketball tournament is a feat that only a few cities can pull off. Indianapolis is an old pro at hosting big sporting events, but what separates Indianapolis from other cities is security.
Drivers in Indianapolis can get used to being stopped for the next couple of weeks as Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers escort team buses to and from the basketball venues.
Some of the equipment used to keep crowds safe during the Super Bowl 11 years ago is in the hands of IMPD. A mobile device on top of a white unmarked ford explorer is one of those devices. Brian Mahone, who is the commander of IMPD special operations unit, says the department has one of the leading radiological detection systems in the country.
“We do have an R&D team that works with our bomb squad EOD unit, that is pretty much all I will go into that,” said Mahone.
For security reasons he would not say if there are permanent radiological detection devices installed around the city. But said the entire city is covered.
I-Team 8 has been told devices that detect chemical, radiological and biological threats have been used at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the past. No one would confirm if the devices are still in place.
As I-Team 8 recently reported, the department expanded their video surveillance reach. The department would not say exactly how many public and private cameras are at their disposal. News 8 has been told the cameras are monitored around the clock. The city does not use facial recognition software on any cameras under their control.
All of the basketball venues and host hotels are surrounded by police and/or concrete barriers. Traffic in those areas is restricted. Mahone says IMPD has not received any credible threats, so far.
“Well the threat level is kind of one of those things that we kind of stay on top of, I mean again, there is no credible threat, we are not inviting any, but again an event this size depending on what we call threat and what someone else calls a threat is two different things,” said Mahone.
None of the teams have made any special security requests to the city. I-Team 8 has been told officers will not be seen in riot gear patrolling the streets or stationed at the venues, which is one of the recommendations in a review of the city’s downtown riot response.
“You can’t look like an occupying army because that is not very welcoming either,” said Mahone.
This is the 8th Final Four Indianapolis has hosted. Typically planning for the Final Four takes about a year and half; the city had two months to prepare for the entire tournament.