City of Phoenix says it's prepared to keep you safe during Final Four festivities

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

In just about two weeks, hundreds of thousands of people will descend on the Valley for Final Four weekend.

The city of Phoenix has been working for years preparing for the Final Four to arrive for its first-ever appearance in the city. In fact, it’s the first time the Final Four has been played on the west coast in more than 20 years.

A top priority for the city of Phoenix is keeping the downtown area safe and fun for all who attend.

Phoenix police officers are always training, keeping their skills sharpened for any sort of scenario. But when it comes to “Big League” events like the Final Four, that training also happens in a classroom. The city of Phoenix gave CBS 5 News and 3TV an exclusive rare look inside its high-level Emergency Operations Center. Over the last couple of months, officers have been going through intensive special training.

“We look at how we will respond to all sort of 'what-ifs,' from power outages to traffic situations to people looking to disrupt the festivities,” said Lisa Jones, Phoenix Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Planning the security aspects for Final Four Fan Fest, March Madness Music Festival and Final Four Dribble involved hundreds of local and national security experts, who will be working around-the-clock making real-time decisions, to keep the public safe. “And it’s all that information, and those decision makers, in one place that allows us to make smart decisions to keep everything running smoothly.”

There are lots of “techy-tools” to give those working in the Emergency Operations Center access to traffic conditions, TV news, social media and even weather reports. Our officers and staff in this room can get a really good view of what’s going on in Downtown Phoenix.  You'll see a heavy police presence during the festivities. There will also be plenty of law enforcement members that won't be seen.  “We will have plenty of uniformed officers out-and-about, but also many on your team you won’t ever see, but they are out there ready to serve,” said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams. And they will be everywhere – up in the air, rolling on motorcycles and interacting with the public on all levels. “We have a plan in place, to provide protection if needed, but most important our officers are ambassadors to the city and read to be there to help,” said Williams.

For more information about the Final Four events in Downtown Phoenix, visit Phoenix.gov/FinalFour and start following #PHXFinalFour and #FinalFour on social media.

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