Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service

Project Prologue

The Olympic Games and Public Safety

The XIX Olympic Winter Games were awarded to Salt Lake City on June 16, 1995. Staging the event involved thousands of employees and volunteers, and required a budget of around 1.3 billion dollars.  The events involved more than 2500 competitors from close to 80 nations, thousands of officials, and others from around the world.  The seventeen days of the games were viewed on television at various times by over 3 billion people.  Media coverage was provided by 9,000 accredited and over 4,000 unaccredited media representatives.  Two million spectators came to view the games.

The Games had an enormous amount of importance added after the terrorists attach of September 11th.  The world watches with anticipation and worry about the security of the Olympics given the global worry over terrorism.

The Utah Olympic Public Safety Command

In 1998, the Utah Legislature crated the State Olympic Safety Command (UCA 53-12) to manage public safety and law enforcement planning and operations for the 2002 Games.  For administrative purposes, the Olympic Public Command was made part of the Utah Department of Public Safety.  The Commissioner of Public Safety served as chair of the Command and was the Olympic law enforcement commander for the State of Utah.

Commander

The Olympic Commander was responsible for the oversight of all public safety agency activity during the Games.  The Commander executed the Olympic plan, including the coordination of peace officers, Utah National ‘Guard, and all other security and public safety personal.

If an action was immediately necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public, the Commander had the authority to direct or reassign a resource or personnel, or carry out any other required action or procedure.

The Members of the Command

The 20 statutory members of the Command included representatives from federal, state, and local law enforcement, EMS, fire, emergency management, public works, public health, and the National Guard.

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee’s (SLOC) security director had a seat on the Command, as did the FBI, United States Secret Service (USSS) and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).  The FBI was the only federal agency made a member of the Command by the statute.  The local Special Agent Charge of the Secret Service and ATF became members of the Command by appointment from the Commissioner of Public Safety.  The President of United States by Presidential Directive 64 made the 2002 Winter Games an event of national security which placed the USSS in charge of all Federal assets.  This became an issue of “who was in charge” but the ability of the Commissioner of Public Safety and USSS Agent in Charge to co-Command was later pointed out as a best practice by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge for government agencies to evaluate when planning for a major event.

The mission of the Command was to provide law enforcement and public safety services related to the 2002 Olympic and Paralympics Games; to ensure the safety and security of the events and public.  Part of the charge was to ensure the safety of services essential to the communities affected by the Games.

Security Planning Process

Olympic security was designed as a four phase project.  It included planning, transition, operations, and recovery.

The project was further subdivided into 12 individual programs:

  1. Research
  2. Design
  3. Comprehensive Master Plan
  4. Subcommittee Plans
  5. Resource identification and acquisition
  6. Training and Testing
  7. Transition
  8. Operations
  9. Paralympics

10.  Recovery

11.  Plan Accountability and Management

12.  After Action

Why this Approach?

Utah’s approach to the Games was based on experience, research and observation of a number of other Olympic and major events.  Including but not limited to:

  1. Lake Placid,
  2. Calgary,
  3. Los Angeles,
  4. Lillehammer,
  5. Albertville,
  6. Barcelona,
  7. World Cup
  8. Goodwill Games,
  9. Super bowls,

10.  World University,

11.  Atlanta,

12.  Nagano, Sydney

The planning structure was created within the framework established by the Olympic Public Safety Command Act.  The command authorized a planning committee, which chartered functional workgroups.  These workgroups were coordinated by full time Olympic planners with detailed large event planning experience.  It was the goal to find the best available planners in nation and bring them to Salt Lake.

These workgroups broke into approximately 30 different subject matter groups ranging from accreditation to public works.  Each group was comprised of a representative from agencies responsible for managing or supporting another function.

A summary of the UOPSC plan was issued in the early summer of 2000.  The plan was tested and refined over the next 18 months.  A Public Safety Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) guide was issued in January 2002.  The document proved very valuable given the complexity of the large plan.  The document outlined a variety of procedures for venues, specialized functions, and agencies under a variety of conditions.

The Basic UOPSC Plan

Secure Environment Goal

During the Olympic operational period, the agencies that made up the Olympic Command worked to provide a secure environment for Olympic athletes, dignitaries, and spectators while they were in defined locations.

The Command also supported the security activities of communities in the seven county Olympic theaters, and was prepared to provide support elsewhere in the state.

The public safety plan and the operations to support the plan were designed to manage risks, while at the same time maintaining what the Olympic organizers termed “the Spirit of the Games.”  It was neither feasible nor economically possible to eliminate all risks.  Given the post 9-11 environment the issue of risk and vulnerabilities were a continual topic among leadership.

The goal of the Command was to secure the games in a safe and secure environment through a three element strategy:

  1. Prevent incidents from happening through venue security planning, resource allocation, and information sharing.
  2. Responding rapidly and with appropriate resources to any incident with minimal disruption to the Games, and
  3. Managing the consequences of any incident through command, coordination, and communication.

Prevention:  Prevention began with the UOPSC intelligence program.  An extensive local, state, national and international intelligence effort was employed to identify any threat to the Games and to Utah during the period of the Games.

Intelligence information was supplemented by venue and Olympic theater risk assessments.  Public safety personnel, resource deployments and access control measure were based largely on those assessments.

Response Strategy:  Public safety personnel were staged at key locations in venues and communities.  An adequate number of appropriately trained personnel were deployed throughout the Olympic theater to ensure a rapid and aggressive response to any incident or situation that threatened the Games or community.  Those personnel had the material, equipment and support need to carry out their assigned missions.

After September 11th, the entire security plan was reviewed and modified to expand aviation support activities, strengthen access control procedures, and augment other aspects of the existing plan such as communications and reporting.

Consequence Management Strategy: It is important to build on existing procedures.  Prior to the Olympic Games, local, state and federal governments already had procedures for managing the consequences of incidents.  UOPSC built on that structure by ensuring that its personnel had the training, resources, and information required to adapt existing procedures to the unique demands of Olympic populations.

Post September 11

The basic UOPSC Plan remained in place after the terrorist events.  Certain elements of the plan were strengthened, those include but not limited to:

  • Earlier venue sweeps prior to the games,
  • Enhanced airspace restrictions and air interdiction measures,
  • Athlete in-transit personnel and communications enhanced,
  • Additional mail and package screening,
  • Statewide law enforcement alerts for new types of threats,
  • Venue pedestrian Screening
    • Increased personnel
    • Increase in metal detectors
    • Bag searches
    • Magnetic wand and pat-down searches could be required,

Additional measures were implemented such as notification and routine briefings became a daily occurrence with adjustments to plan as necessary.

Lessons Learned

In October of 2002 the Oquirrh Institute held the 2002 Olympic Security Review Conference where a distinguished group of professionals gathered together to identify the “Lessons Learned”.  The group was lead by then Governor Michael Leavitt.  Peter J. Ryan, Commissioner, New South Wales Police and Chief Security Advisor, International Olympic Committee for the Athens Games was in attendance and offered his view on several key issues.

Sixty participants from the private sector and from local, state, and federal public safety community were present at the conference.  The detail of the report can be found in the Oquirrh Institute Document “The 2002 Olympic Winter Games Security Lessons Applied to Homeland Security.  Additional Information is available at the Oquirrh Institute, 299 South Main Street, Suite 1700, Salt Lake City, UT 84111.  This document will outline the findings of that group.

The seven principles identified by the group as “Lessons Learned” are:

  1. Blend Central Coordination with Local Control
  2. Build an Institutional Framework
  3. Build social Capital
  4. Rely on Networks
  5. Use Risk Assessments
  6. Integrate Homeland Security into all public safety activity, and
  7. Make Haste, but with deliberation.

Each “Lesson Learned” is outlined in detail in the Oquirrh Institute Document.

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Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service