Public safety preparation for the basketball tournament will be just as intense as the Super Bowl, Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Security planning began more than a year ago with a series of trips to the 2019 Final Four site in Minneapolis, where Atlanta public safety officials observed the city’s security operations.
“Those visits are valuable because it allows you to see what works and what doesn’t — and where there is room for improvement,” Campos said. “But each city is unique; there is no cookie-cutter approach to security.”
Exact security plans, including the number of officers hired to work the event, have not been divulged. About 30 local, federal and state law enforcement agencies are involved.
Atlanta officers will also work 12-hour shifts, beginning Thursday before the tournament and ending Tuesday after the championship game, Campos said.
All told, the department expects to spend $3.1 million on public safety for the Final Four, including $2.1 million on overtime costs.
But the new twist this year is the Coronavirus (Corv 19). This adds a whole new level to security concerns.
Atlanta police are encouraging its staff to take precautions that will keep them healthy amid the outbreak. “We are encouraging hand sanitizing, hand washing, and other preventative measures, not coming to work sick, etc.,” Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos said.
NCAA spokesman Greg Johnson said the NCAA Sport Science Institute sent memos directing schools and conference offices to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for resources on the issue.
“Otherwise, NCAA staff continues to prepare for all NCAA winter and spring championships, but we are keenly aware of coronavirus and will continue to monitor in coordination with state/local health authorities and the CDC,” Johnson said in a statement.