With the All-Star Game fast approaching, there is a lot of work happening to prepare for the international spotlight that will be on Kansas City, and KCTV5 News got a chance to go behind the scenes to find out more about the extensive security steps in place to make everyone safe in and out of the ball park.
July 10 will be a big day for Kansas City, and for the first time ever, Kauffman Stadium – or The "K" – will be viewed by millions of homes thousands of miles away.
"They talk about 200 countries that are watching this event. Not very many times people get to see KC on a world stage like that. It's going to be an opportunity for us to really shine as a city," said Major Rich Lockhart with the Kansas City Police Department.
But with the All-Star Game being such a high-profile event comes increased risks that Kansas City has never had to deal with before.
"We're prepared for everything, from a bomb going off somewhere by a terrorist. We're planning for something like civil disorder by some group trying to disrupt what's going on to natural disasters," said Lockhart.
Lockhart will be at the city's emergency operations center in charge of security for all of the events scheduled during All-Star week. He said hundred of officers will spread out across the city to keep an eye on the large crowds.
"Over the five days of Fan Fest, we are expecting close to 100,000 people and anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 on the Plaza for the red-carpet parade, and then we're expecting sellouts, so 40,000 for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at the ballpark," he said.
Besides officers on the ground, the command center will be able to monitor all the city cameras, scout traffic cameras and even cameras at Kauffman Stadium will be patched into the center for the first time.
"There's going to be a lot of things people won't be able to see. And so it's like that antivirus program on your computer. There's going to be things running in the background," said Lockhart.
The FBI, Homeland Security and even experts with the military are teaming up to make sure the event comes out with no foul play. In fact, next month the same military experts will take a hard look at Kansas City's security plan to address its vulnerabilities.
"They've worked on Super Bowls and Olympics and things like that, and so we will have an opportunity at the end of May to take our plan up there, present it to them and have them spend a week chewing it up and spit it back out and give us ways to improve it," said Lockhart.
While the city's emergency operations center was empty when KCTV5's Sandra Olivas visited, it will be in full swing in a little more than three months, and Gene Shepherd is the man in charge of the entire system.
"It's just a big event. High profile brings a lot of attention to the city, which is good. But it could bring harm in as well, so have to be prepared for all different things that could occur," he said.
Shepherd traveled to Phoenix, AZ, last year during their All-Star Week to see firsthand how security was handled there.
"I was able to spend two days in the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) in Phoenix last All-Star Game. It was very enlightening just to the magnitude of this event," he said.
Shepherd said manpower is crucial, and that's why hundred of officers will be located, not just at the stadium, but at each of the events downtown leading up to the game.
"Over here is where we control the cameras, and they have a joy stick, and we can switch to different cameras, zoom in and zoom out," he said, so that if something's happening, officials can focus right in on it.
Dozens of cameras across the city and even ones at Kauffman Stadium will all be viewed at the center, and to detour a possible terrorist attack, for the first time special devices will be set up at The "K."
"Radiological monitoring. They'll have monitors set up around the stadium where, if they would get a hit on anything radiological, nuclear, the device would go off, and we would be alerted, and we saw a couple of examples of that in Phoenix. They were actually false alarms, but they were able to hit on the individual and track him down and found out they had radiation treatment recently," said Shepherd.
Wednesday, KC's security plan will be put to the test when everyone will be in place at the center and at The "K" for a mock exercise where fake disasters will play out, and each agency will step up to the plate and respond.
"There will be several large-scale events occurring at Kauffman, and the players out there don't have an idea of them ahead of time, and then we will be coordinating that response here in our unified command center," he said. "It's a no-fault learning experience that we can find out, ‘Do we have any shortcomings here? Is there anything that we can do better? Are there any improvements needed?' So that we can be better prepared on All-Star Week."
The goal is to find out what worked and what didn't as KC's All-Star security is put into action.
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