This month, Salt Lake City, Utah will have a population explosion. Thousands upon thousands of athletes, journalists, spectators, officials, trainers and security personnel will descend on the normally peaceful town to take part in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Planning to host the Olympics takes years. The host city gets started even before they have been picked by the Olympic Committee. Once a host city is officially chosen, planning swings into high gear. "Olympic Committees, usually about three years out, start staffing and thinking about strategy. As soon as they get a security director on board, which is generally pretty early, we start talking to them," says Jim Dobrei, corporate vice president/director of sales and marketing, Garrett Metal Detectors, Garland, Texas.


To pull off the Olympics, planning is key. Committees need to be set up to oversee the process and ensure things run smoothly. One of the first committees to be established for the 2002 Winter Olympics was the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command (UOPSC). It was created in 1998 when the Utah State Legislature passed Senate Bill 159-"Government Relationship to the Olympics." The bill created a unified organizational structure of law enforcement, fire service, public works, emergency management and emergency medical services from all government levels and involved jurisdictions to provide seamless public safety functions during the 2002 games. UOPSC is responsible for developing plans and policies, in conjunction with federal, state and local public safety agencies, to provide a safe and secure Olympic experience for athletes and visitors while maintaining regular public safety services for the residents of Utah.

There are 20 members that make up the UOPSC Command. Robert L. Flowers is the chairman. He has over 23 years experience in law enforcement. The other members come from all kinds of backgrounds and experiences, which just enhance the Committee's capabilities.

The Committee's planning process began as soon as Salt Lake City won the bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. UOPSC decided the best way to prepare for the games was to use plans and procedures that are used everyday. They enhanced them to handle an event the size and scope of the Olympics. "UOPSC is really an amazing organization which demonstrates how federal and local law enforcement agencies can really work together to put together a much more comprehensive security plan than I think has ever been assembled for any event," says Lou Chiera, director of Olympic marketing, Sensormatic, Boca Raton, Florida. Also, lessons learned from previous games have been incorporated into UOPSC's plan.

Another committee that was established early is the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC). SLOC is in charge of everything Olympic. Mitt Romney heads the committee. He was chosen to replace the original committee leader after the scandal involving unethical practices to win the bid.

Once the committees are in place, the sponsors and suppliers get involved. Sensormatic is the official electronic security supplier as well as sponsor for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Garrett Metal Detectors is the official supplier to the games for metal detectors. Both companies have a long-standing relationship with the Olympics. "We have been supplying metal detectors to the Olympics since 1984 and that is the first time they used them," says Dobrei. "Our relationship with the Olympics started back in 1996 when we were named as the first ever electronic security supplier," says Chiera.

Garrett and Sensormatic started working with the committees as soon as they were put in place. Securing the Olympics is a massive task, in which communication, planning and strategy are key to pulling it off.

Putting it in Motion

There are 34 different venues, which include competition and non-competition venues that need to be protected. The competition venues include the obvious like the ice skating rink and the Utah Olympic Park. Non-competition venues include places like the media center and Olympic Village. All of these areas will be secured. There was a perimeter put up around the downtown area, so to enter into the official Olympic area one will have to go through a screening area first before entering the secured area.

"The actual technology and the systems that are being provided by us include everything from fixed cameras to the latest digital programmable domes. In total, there will be over 500 cameras in place when we are finished," says Chiera. The largest Winter Olympics to date, will need the most up-to-date technology to help secure it. "They are going to use just under 500 walkthrough metal detectors and almost 1,000 handhelds. This is the largest amount ever used for a Winter Olympics," says Dobrei.

According to the UOPSC Web site, venue security will be like going to the airport. Spectators will park in designated areas and will be shuttled to the venue. At the venue, they will pass through a security checkpoint that includes magnetometers and screening of any bags.

In Light of 9/11

After the horrific events of September 11th, there were murmurs that maybe the winter games wouldn't go on. But according to Utah Governor, Michael Leavitt, in a CNN interview, "This is an event that was a good thing to have and now it's an event we have to have. We'll be ready and this will be a secure place." Chiera echoes Leavitt's statement, "Bringing people together for the purpose of sport where the world comes together in peace, in light of what happened on September 11th, is why people are feeling so strongly that these games still happen."

The security plan for the Salt Lake Games was one of the most thorough and tight plans of any of the previous games. Security measures for the 2002 Winter Games have always included fencing systems, electronic surveillance, x-ray equipment, contraband detection systems, sophisticated search and detection equipment and law enforcement agents. Since September 11th, they have added air restrictions, limited the number of bags allowed into the venues and 2,000 more National Guardsmen maybe called. The secured perimeter around the downtown area has been extended. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is headquartered in downtown Salt Lake has installed metal detectors, which has extended the secured perimeter.

The security measures were highly developed before 9/11. Since then, the committees and sponsors have been tweaking and tightening up the plans. "From day one, I think UOPSC and SLOC have always had a very sound plan, but just like everyone, they have gone back to reexamine their security. We've been invited to meetings since the September 11th attacks to see if there is anything else we can provide from a technology standpoint. Are there any open holes? Clearly, they've gone back and reinforced what was already a strong plan," says Chiera.