Atlanta police beefing up security for SEC Championship weekend

Atlanta police promise a beefed up security presence in downtown Atlanta during the SEC Championship festivities this weekend.

Deputy Chief Rodney Bryant said police were increasing the number of officers and widening the patrolled perimeter around the Georgia Dome, especially in the wake of the mass shooting in California that left 14 dead Wednesday.

The Alabama Crimson Tide and Florida Gators will close out the Southeastern Conference football schedule Saturday at the Georgia Dome with the 24th annual SEC Championship Game. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.

Bryant said much of the security will reflect what fans are familiar with at NFL games, such as restricting bags, including only allowing clear ones inside the Dome.

There will also be more security for the annual Children's Christmas Parade benefiting Children's Healthcare of Atlanta earlier Saturday. The parade, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, begins at Peachtree Street and 16th Street and ends at Peachtree Street and Fifth Street.

“We want people to be very comfortable at the parade, also, so we will be increasing police presence there also,” Bryant said. “We will have our tactical teams ready to go. They generally will not be visible but they will be in close proximity.”

Atlanta officers will be working with support from various police agencies, including ones at Georgia State University, the Georgia World Congress Center, MARTA and the State Patrol, Bryant said.

The department has received no warnings of any threats, Bryant said. The police presence was bolstered at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport before the recent terrorist attack in Paris.

Bryant advised football fans to get to the stadium early and noted that MARTA also was increasing security measures. MARTA officials did not immediately return a call for information.

Bryant said the department did not have an estimate of what the increased overtime for officers would cost the department.

“It’s going to be a long day for a lot of us,” he said.