Santa Clara Police Department Capt. Phil Cooke, Incident Commander for Super Bowl 50, was awarded the California Commendation Medal on Feb 7, 2016, for coordinating Super Bowl 50 Security.
Cooke, a 27-year veteran with the SCPD, emphasized that team work is what ensured public safety at the Homeland Security Level 1 event–the highest level security protection a local event can have.
“I was not expecting this. I was humbled to receive the award,” says Cooke. “It’s an individual award, but really, it was a team win for Santa Clara, including the fire department, which played a huge part.”
As Incident Commander, Cooke had operational control over local, state and federal law enforcement agencies deployed for Super Bowl 50. The emergency response, military and public safety agencies- which included the National Guard, Homeland Security and the FBI- spent two years planning for security, putting resources in place to keep the game safe, prevent disruption and activate emergency plans.
“The Santa Clara Police Department was the lead law enforcement agency for Super Bowl 50,” wrote SCPD Chief Michael Sellers in an email. “The best decision I made was to appoint Captain Phil Cooke to represent our agency. The California National Guard recognized Captain Cooke for all his hard work and personal sacrifices. He was very deserving of this award.”
The SCPD thanked Cooke and all “the dedicated men and women within the department who made up the special Homeland Security Events Team for Super Bowl 50,” writing:
“This monumental event was a success by all accounts,” said a SCPD announcement of the award. The coordination by the department requires extensive training, planning, leadership and patience because it is one of the most complex operations to be taken on in the state of California.
“In the end, incidents at Super Bowl 50 weren’t too different than at a normal game,” says Cooke. Typical of a normal game, incidents the security team dealt with included unruly behavior, guests having too much to drink and people with fake tickets or credentials.