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Disaster management alumnus anchors the defense for Super Bowl LIV
Brian Rafky (center) with classmates at the Academy for International Disaster Preparedness' field course exercise.

Disaster management alumnus anchors the defense for Super Bowl LIV

December 4, 2019 at 12:00am

Brian Rafky has made public safety his mission – and with the world’s eyes on South Florida for Super Bowl LIV, fans can rest assured that he’s watching out for their security. 

Viewed by nearly 100 million people, the Super Bowl is one of the most watched annual sporting events in the world. Preparations are already well underway for Super Bowl LIV, which will be hosted in Miami in February 2020. More than 150,000 guests are expected to visit the weekend of the game, with the stadium holding about 65,000.

Rafky, who recently graduated with a master's in disaster management from the Academy of International Disaster Preparedness, said that the program helped prepare him for the processes and collaboration structures needed to ensure that all the first responders are Super Bowl ready.

 “The master’s program teaches an all-hazards approach that you really need to be able to communicate with all agencies and professions to have ultimate success. That really set me up to be ready to take on an event like the Super Bowl,” Rafky said. “The degree really filters into what first responders and people in this field are already doing – but it helps give us different lenses to approach things from perspectives that give us a greater understanding of a situation, which is vital to mitigate a disaster.”

As a major in the Miami-Dade Police Department and director of the South East Florida Fusion Center, Rafky is heading the joint operations center, intelligence operations center and emergency operations center for the big game.

“We’ve been working on the Super Bowl for well over a year now,” Rafky said. “Collaborating with other agencies, we are assessing any possible threats and planning to make sure that we keep everyone safe on game day.”

The inter-agency task force combines all local, state and federal agencies – everything from public works to the FBI.  

“The community and fans are depending on us to make sure the job gets done and there are plans in place to keep everyone safe,” Rafky continued. “We’ve been meeting regularly for over a year to discuss the possible best outcomes on game day. With all these different agencies involved, we exchange ideas and layers of expertise, building upon technologies that already exist to really make sure that we are doing it better than anyone else – that is really what the goal is.”

For Rafky and his fellow first responders, who will be on the front lines come game day, an event of this magnitude presents an opportunity to come together.

“With the Super Bowl, one of the best things about this job is the relationships built through all the different partnerships. Those collaborations have really been the most rewarding to me. It makes us better, the lessons we are learning as we make sure that everyone is safe for the Super Bowl can be used during a regular football game or the next major event.”

On Feb. 2, fans near and far can enjoy the Super Bowl knowing that the safety and security will be top notch.

“This is something that people take for granted, this level of collaboration isn’t easy to do, but we all come together and to make sure this is done to the best of our ability,” Rafky said. “We’ve played out scenarios, had these conversations in-advance and have a plan of action to ensure that on game day all of the security measures are in place and seamless. Our work, hopefully, will go unseen but we are there making sure everyone is safe.”

Brian Rafky