They’re calling it the “new normal,” the enhanced safety and security measures that Buffalo Bills fans will see at every home game in New Era Field.
Besides that visible anti-terrorist presence, fans will notice new metal detectors at every stadium gate this season, following a trial period at Gate 3 last year. Previously, anyone entering the stadium had to submit to a hand-held wand. Fans still will have to take out their cellphones before going through the detectors, but they can keep their keys, wallets and loose change in their pockets.
Bills and sheriff’s officials continue to push fans to arrive at the gates early, 60 to 90 minutes before kickoff, because of the enhanced gate-screening process that has been in effect since 2012.
Another change this season involves a crackdown on rules governing glass-bottle disposal in stadium parking lots. Anyone disobeying an order to properly dispose of a glass bottle or pour the contents into a plastic cup may be ticketed.
While they adjust to those new rules, fans also may notice the presence of about two dozen SWAT Team members, 16 dogs that can detect explosives and seven Bomb Squad members at each game. Erie County sheriff’s and Buffalo Bills officials were expected to discuss those and a few other measures at a late-morning press conference Tuesday outside the stadium.
The anti-terrorist changes actually started in the last three home games last season, following the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. The Paris attacks, which included two people setting off explosive vests outside a soccer stadium, prompted sheriff’s, Bills and National Football League security officials to take a fresh look at their security measures.