Several states to send officers to 2002 Olympics, official says

(SALT LAKE CITY) -- After three presentations and numerous informal discussions with police chiefs from around the world over the past week, Utah Commissioner of Public Safety Craig Dearden says law enforcement agencies from several states are interested in sending officers to Salt Lake City in 2002.

Just 15 months from the Olympics and still needing 2,000 sworn law enforcement officers, Dearden made two brief presentations Saturday and another Tuesday at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in San Diego, Calif., asking for sworn officers to join the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command (UOPSC).

Meanwhile, a letter from Dearden is on its way to state agencies in Utah, also asking for sworn officers.

Representatives from Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and California were among those who expressed interest in filling Utah's Olympics need.

"There's a lot of interest here for people to come give us a hand," Dearden said. "We've had several San Diego city police officers that say they'd like to come up."

While the talks are still in the preliminary stages, Dearden estimates based on initial inquiries in San Diego that 100 to 200 officers will join UOPSC in 2002.

UOPSC will begin formalizing agreements with out-of-state agencies after the end of the year, Dearden said.

In-state recruitment is picking up too.

The Department of Corrections, the Attorney General's Office, the Utah State Tax Commission and the State Board of Pardons and Parole are just some of the agencies who'll be receiving Dearden's one-page letter.

The letter requests officers for the three weeks the Games will take place from Feb. 8-24 to provide security for the 70,000 visitors expected in Salt Lake City. Dearden requests a formal count from each agency by Nov. 30.

Board of Pardons Chairman Michael Sibbett is working to finalize how many of the roughly 15 officers from his agency could work the Olympics.

"I can't give you a hard number," Sibbett said. "I'd support him (Dearden) as much as I possibly could and don't have any reservations. If my sworn personnel can help out during the Olympics, I'll make do and keep things running with my non-sworn officers."

Corrections Deputy Director Mike Chabries estimates his agency could spare between 200 and 500 officers for the Olympics.

"Right now we anticipate that many of our field agents and some of our institutional folks who are not involved in the day-to-day security will be partnered during the Olympics with the Department of Public Safety."

In his letter to state agencies, Dearden stated UOPSC would house, feed and pay required overtime for the donated officers.

UOPSC is also putting the final touches on its Web site, which will allow trained public safety personnel to log on and register to volunteer their services for 2002.

Internationally, officers from Olympic host countries Australia, Italy and Greece have also expressed an interest in being part of the 2002 security force.

"Atlanta's been helping us out and there is kind of an Olympic spirit in all of that," said UOPSC spokesman Chris Kramer. "It's kind of an unspoken obligation that it's our job to help the next group out any way we can. The folks from the state of Georgia flew out here multiple times on their dime. After the 2002 Games we will be helping the next cities."

Dearden also plans to meet with leaders in Utah County to ease reservations they've expressed about not having the funds to send officers to the Olympics.

State Olympic Officer Lane Beattie told members of the Legislative Management Committee Tuesday public safety in 2002 is being looked at "almost on a daily basis."

It's no secret that much of the concern about public safety revolves around money. Beattie still needs another $8 million to cover costs. The money is being sought from the federal government.

He said officials will meet at the White House later this month to seek a commitment for the $8 million, which will be used to pay for the 2,000 officers still needed at Games time.

(iSyndicate; The Deseret News; Nov. 15, 2000). Terms and Conditions: Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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