By Stephanie Richards
Provo Mayor Lewis Billings expressed confidence Wednesday, Nov. 14 that the 2002 Winter Olympic Games will be held as scheduled in February 2002.
“We are mindful of the events in the world, but our police and emergency personnel have been working with the FBI, Federal Emergency Management Association and the Secret Service to make sure all events in Provo will be as safe as possible,” Billings said in a news release.
Billings also stated that his committee is prepared to make sure all is ready when athletes and visitors arrive.
Provo Police has also cracked down to ensure that safety and security will prevail during the Olympics.
“We”re now beginning to develop new security techniques with federal resources that have never been used before,” said Lt. Greg Duval, Olympic coordinator.
This new federal grant came in lieu of a bill signed by Bill Clinton after the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
The bill increased federal donations to increase national security, with the goal to avoid similar security issues that occurred in Atlanta, Duval said.
The Olympics in Salt Lake City will be the first games to implement the new security measure with the federal grant, Duval said.
Provo Police”s security plan includes designated Olympic venue areas, security screening, established driving routes and parking areas, and increased patrol officers, Duval said.
Security will be tightest around Olympic venue Seven Peaks and the surrounding area.
Every person who enters these venues, including athletes, workers, media, and spectators, will pass through security screening, Duval said.
Also, Provo Police has established several routes for people to enter and exit the arena. Roads will be blocked off and people will be directed to certain parking areas, Duval said.
Once at the Olympic venue, people will only be allowed to enter certain portals and rows.
“Traffic is going to increase, but outside of that we will be day to day,” Duval said. “More people will be around in general, but people should feel safe.”
The police department is also planning for property thefts and minor incidents that might occur with the increased number of people, Ct. Brad Leathem of the Provo Police department said.
There will be an increased number of policemen on patrol away from the Olympic venues so that they will be able to prevent these thefts and respond more quickly to minor incidents, Leathem said.
These officers will be working both in uniform and undercover, Duval said.
Also, Duval said he believes that more people around Provo will deter the number of thefts because there will be more witnesses.
Despite all of the safety measures, there are still many BYU students and Provo residents wary of their safety during the Olympics.
“I know they are doing many things to ensure safety, but I am still concerned anyways because if something is going to happen, it will happen here,” said Chiara Degli Esposti, 25, a senior majoring in linguistics from Italy.