Lawmen say Games left area safer |

Lawmen say Games left area safer

Huge crowds were in Park City during the 2002 Winter Olympics. Local lawmen say the Games taught them how to handles masses of people. Skills police officers and sheriff's deputies learned in preparation for the Games are now commonly used, the police chief and sheriff say. Park Record File Photo

Lloyd Evans won no medals during the 2002 Winter Olympics and the National Anthem was not played to honor Dave Edmunds.

But the two top lawmen in Summit County say that their Olympic experience, and that of the cops and deputies that work for them, remains invaluable four years after Utah’s Games.

They say that, because the Park City Police Department and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office were integral to the security plans of the Games, the agencies are better trained to serve the area now.

"It was sort of like having an opportunity to experience a law-enforcement career in 17 days," said Evans, the Park City police chief, who held that position during the Games.

Olympic organizers see security as critical to the planning efforts, necessitating cooperation between local agencies, the state government and the federal government. In 2002, the local agencies supplied men and women to work alongside the others who were stationed in Park City and Summit County during the Games.

Evans said the law-enforcement legacy of the Games is important because Park City police officers who worked during the Olympics have "a sense of confidence handling large events."

Evans said, for instance, that the Police Department since the Olympics employed contingency plans during big events like the annual Sundance Film Festival.

The plans include those addressing bomb disposal and handling protesters. Before the Games, Evans said, the police did not frequently make such plans.

"Prior to the Olympics, Arts Festival was a primary concern (for) over-consumption of alcohol," Evans said.

About half of the police officers with the department now worked during the Games. Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds, then a Park City police officer, commanded the venue at Park City Mountain Resort, where skiing and snowboarding events were held. Lynn Nagel, a sergeant with the Police Department, was the commander at Deer Valley, where skiing and freestyle events were staged.

Evans said that 300 lawmen and other security personnel worked in Park City during each 24-hour period. Of those, 60 were assigned to Main Street, which was turned into an auto-free celebration zone during the Games.

After the Olympics, the law-enforcement planners left three out of six security cameras used in Park City during the Games, Evans said. The city then re-installed the cameras at City Park, in a lot at the Public Works Building and at the city’s water-treatment plant. The cameras continue to operate.

Edmunds, the first-term sheriff, said he learned techniques such as how to recognize weapons of mass destruction while he was training for his role during the Games.

"I didn’t know anything about them before," Edmunds said about weapons of mass destruction.

Edmunds said the local lawmen also learned about managing incidents during the Olympics. He said those skills have been used during search-and-rescue operations and a bank robbery in Park City.

He said people in Summit County are more secure because the lawmen received the training.

"They’re safer because we manage critical incidents better than we ever did before," Edmunds said.

He said, after the Olympics, the Sheriff’s Office won federal grants for a SWAT van and a mobile incident-command center.

"After the Olympics, it was, hey, wait a minute, we need this," Edmunds said.

More important than the equipment, is that the Sheriff’s Office deputies are better lawmen, he said.

"That was the greatest legacy that the Olympics left us," he said. "The fact we had so many people receive world-class training."

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