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Olympics to Get More Security

January 29, 2002|Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The federal government agreed to send about 50 more security officers to the Salt Lake City Games, the top Olympic security officer said Monday night.

Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft agreed with local law enforcement officials that more security was needed in one undisclosed area outside the venues, said Robert Flowers, the commander of the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command.

"We're talking about enhancing something that is already there, not creating something new," Flowers said. "Where we have four officers it would be nice to have six."

When Ashcroft visited Salt Lake City earlier this month, Flowers said a local law enforcement person brought the area to his attention at a briefing.

Ashcroft agreed the area was of concern and agreed to find more security personnel.

Flowers said he was surprised at Ashcroft's response because he had believed there were no more federal bodies available for the 17-day games.

"I'll take as many as they can give us," Flowers said.

"We have open shopping areas downtown and other places people will be enjoying. It's like they're giving us another bottle of water on a long hike. We don't need it but it's nice to have."

Flowers said other than this area, Ashcroft was satisfied with the security planning effort by state, local and federal officers.

More than 60 agencies are involved in Olympic security, including city police and fire departments, statewide agencies such as the Department of Health, as well as the FBI and Secret Service.

In the 1996 Olympics at Atlanta, one person was killed when a pipe bomb exploded in Centennial Park. Flowers said that area had a large number of people--90,000--who were not checked for explosives. There is no comparable area at Salt Lake City.

Flowers said all Olympic-related venues have as much security as possible.

"We are talking about securing a worldwide event across four counties, with a million people here," he said. "It's difficult to do and we would could use a few more resources."

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