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Harrisburg's Miller heads NFL security at Super Bowl - abc27 WHTM

Harrisburg's Miller heads NFL security at Super Bowl

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NEW YORK (WHTM) -

He stepped to the podium in a ballroom at a New York City hotel for one of several Super Bowl week news conferences.

"My name is Jeff Miller. I'm the chief security officer for the National Football League," he said  calmly despite the huge stage and assembled media from around the world.

He introduced officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the New Jersey State Police, the New York City Police Department and the FBI. He also fielded media questions about Super Bowl security.

Jeff Miller is in the spotlight. He's also on the hot seat.

Securing America's biggest game, in America's biggest city, is a big job.

"I'm not getting much sleep right now," Miller said with a chuckle.

Miller, 50, has had gray hair for years but spearheading Super Bowl security isn't helping.

Checking 80,000 fans, bundled up in layers, into the stadium is but one challenge.

"We have some really effective screening techniques," Miller said. "Metal detectors, walk-through, hand-held, dogs, X-ray, there's a lot of technology we throw at this."

But the obvious concern is this: terrorists know New York and terrorists have hit New York.

Miller concedes the point, but counters that no place in America is better prepared right now to deal with terrorists than New York City.

One hundred agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FBI, are in the fight.

Jets and helicopters are in the air around the stadium and city.

Boats are in the water 24-7.

Most of the ground is covered, too, in blue.

But Miller still worries. He admits that in a free society you can only secure so much.

His biggest concern isn't so much the North Jersey stadium, it's perimeter, or the police-protected events in New York but fans coming in from outside the secure zones.

"The different places where a person could maybe get access before they get too close to our venues and could try to do something and hurt people."

Miller knows to expect the unexpected, like last year's power outage in New Orleans. But that lesson in the Big Easy makes him uneasy.

"This year we're gonna try to go blackout free," Miller joked at the news conference. "So we've done a lot with power redundancy in planning for this event."

He won't be taking time to reflect on his career journey but he often does. It's been an impressive trip.

He graduated from Central Dauphin High School in 1981. He became a state trooper and rose through the ranks. Governor Ed Rendell tapped Miller to be Commissioner of the PSP.

His most notable moment may have come in 2006, when he was the calming presence after the Amish shootings in Nickel Mines, Lancaster County.

In 2008, he jumped to the NFL.

Being has myriad responsibilities as head of NFL security.

He's responsible for keeping stadiums safe from outside threats.

Making a game enjoyable on the inside is also under Miller's purview. He's initiated programs to increase fan safety and crack down on drunken and disorderly attendees.

He's also responsible for policing players' behavior, from steroid use to criminal conduct.

Miller investigated the New Orleans Saints for Bountygate.

Every weekend during the season he's either at a stadium or at the NFL's Park Avenue headquarters monitoring events around the NFL.

It's exhilarating, he says, and exhausting. In the past three weeks, for instance, he was in Seattle for the NFC Championship game, flew back to New York for a pre-Super Bowl meeting, flew to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl, flew back to New York for Super Bowl week and will have a meeting in California next week. He estimates that's 25,000 air miles in 21 days.

He's tired, but not complaining.

"I would have told you if I could do anything it would be a state trooper and then work for the NFL. I would have told you that at age 12 and I can't believe I've actually been able to do both those things. So I am the luckiest guy around."

Miller and his wife have two daughters. His oldest graduates from college this May, his youngest from a Midstate high school this June. This summer the Miller's will relocate to the New York City area.

But first there's a big game in the New York City area and this self-proclaimed "lucky guy" hopes his luck continues for a few more days.

 

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