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Routine Crime in Exceptional Times: The Impact of the 2002 Winter Olympics on Citizens Demand for Police Services

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 35 Issue: 1 Dated: 2007 Pages: 89-101
Scott H. Decker; Sean P. Varano; Jack R. Greene
Date Published
13 pages
This article examined “routine” crime as measured by calls for police service, official crime reports, and police arrests in Salt Lake City before, during, and after the 2002 Olympic Games.
Based on data from Salt Lake City before, during, and after the 2002 Winter Olympics, the results suggested that Salt Lake, in attempting to absorb nearly 2 million visitors experienced an accompanying spike in community concern for routine crime. Crime concern, as measured by citizen calls for police service, was affected by the presence of the Olympics, suggesting that the games affected community capacity for absorbing large numbers of “outsiders”, while at the same time maintaining a sense of community that afforded such an accommodation. Community concern with crime measured by calls for service declined. In addition, such concerns were revealed to increase in the Salt Lake community during the Olympics. The impact of special events on patterns of routine crime raises questions about the extent to which such special events have an impact on routine crime, and whether they challenge the institutional capacity that provides safety and security during those events. This study examined three issues: (1) changes in the pattern of routine crime, (2) the impact of the Olympic Games on citizen demand for police services, and (3) the response of law enforcement to crime during the games. The resulting data were used to test these key assumptions: that the presence of the games in a community alters one or more dimensions of routine activities theory, which results in a discernible change in crime patterns. Tables, appendix, notes and references