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Safety and Security at Special Events: The Case of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games

NCJ Number
Security Journal Volume: 18 Issue: 4 Dated: 2005 Pages: 65-74
Scott H. Decker; Jack R. Greene; Vince Webb; Jeff Rojek; Jack McDevitt; Tim Bynum; Sean Varano; Peter K. Manning
Date Published
10 pages
This article explores the challenges of developing temporary security organizations and examines their effectiveness of meeting the demands of large-scale events such as the Olympic Games.
The Olympic Games offer a venue like no other in terms of scope, duration, and potential for threats to the community, participants, and dignitaries. This article draws on a criminological assessment of safety and security at the 2002 Utah Winter Games in order to inform security management issues at large-scale events. More specifically, the authors examined: (1) the changing definitions of safety and security at the 2002 Olympic Games; (2) the development and maintenance of organizational structures and interaction; and (3) lessons learned from other security operations at large-scale events. Data included direct observation of security venues at the 2002 Winter Games, interviews with key security personnel, and review of official data concerning security at the 2002 Winter Games. Several key findings emerged from the research, including the importance of centralization of security at large events; the inclusion of fire, emergency response, and public health personnel; the importance of technology to security functions; the value of training; and the importance of the visibility of uniformed security personnel. Several recommendations are presented for building temporary public safety and security organizations, including the recommendation to formalize communications across the venue and to view large-scale events in a theater-wide perspective rather than as a series of loosely connected smaller events. Researchers should continue to build a systematic research agenda focused on the development of effective organizations capable of meeting the safety and security challenges of large-scale events in an uncertain world. Notes


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