When the 2016 Super Bowl kicks off in Santa Clara on Feb. 7, the crowd of spectators at Levi's Stadium will likely include a few Palo Alto police officers.
Unlike in the past, they won't be difficult to spot.
The Palo Alto Police Department is one of several law enforcement agencies that has signed an agreement with the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, which operates the stadium in tandem with the City of Santa Clara. Under the agreement, which the City Council approved last week, Palo Alto police officers will be allowed to work the event, joining other police departments from the around the county.
The cooperation in of itself isn't new. When the stadium opened in 2014, Palo Alto signed an agreement with the Stadium Authority to provide security services when needed. Between June 2014 and June of this year, five Palo alto police officers have participated while off-duty, according to a June report from the police department. Until recently, these officers used their Palo Alto equipment but wore Santa Clara police uniforms and insignias and were classified as "double-badged."
The new agreement, which the council signed in June and then amended this month, changes this practice. Now, Palo Alto officers will be considered under the employment of their home agency, rather than reservists for the Santa Clara department. They will wear their regular Palo Alto uniforms and equipment and the City of Palo Alto will be liable for their actions.
The new agreement also modifies and clarifies the chain of command. A new clause in the agreement states that officers are to "follow the training, protocol and/or commanding officers of their home agency," particularly if a scene dispute arises over tactics and response. According to the agreement, this amendment was requested by the partner agency, in this case Palo Alto.
Another new amendment clarifies that Palo Alto would not be liable if an officer from another agency engages in excessive force. The change was made after Palo Alto consulted with its insurance carrier, ACCEL, according to the report from the police department.
The new agreement provides for law enforcement services between Jan. 1 and March 30, 2016, though each party has the option of terminating it sooner with a 60-day notice. However, the agreement also provides that Palo Alto can recall its officers back to the city without prior notice in the event of an emergency.