Statement of Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson
Before the Committee on the Judiciary United States Senate Concerning Security Concerns Regarding the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah May 31, 2001
Mr. Chairman, it is my privilege to appear before you today for the purpose of discussing the role of the Department of Justice in working with the State of Utah, with federal, state and local agencies, and with the Congress to ensure that the 2002 Winter Olympics will be safe and successful.
As you know, I was confirmed a little over two weeks ago. I am just getting acquainted with all my responsibilities, and was delighted to learn that the Department has been actively involved in preparing for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games and Paralympic Winter Games. The Department of Justice is deeply committed to working cooperatively to ensure that the 2002 Games are safe.
This morning, I had the opportunity to tour some of the Olympic venues. It is a pleasure now to be sitting in this beautiful stadium which will host some the Olympic events. Salt Lake City provides a magnificent setting for these historic games. I want to do everything I can to ensure that people from all over the world can come to the Games, bring their families, enjoy the spectacular beauty of Utah and the excitement of world-class athletic competition, and feel safe and secure doing so.
The Department has invested heavily in this goal. Our investment has been as a partner with federal, state, and local agencies in planning for, and preparing to provide, law enforcement and public safety support for the Games. We have invested funds in this effort, but more importantly, we have invested substantially in time, people, and energy.
The Department plays two key roles in ensuring public safety and law enforcement support for the Olympics. First, we work with all the agencies and components involved to plan and prepare for a safe and secure Winter Olympics. We started fulfilling that responsibility shortly after Utah was awarded the Games in 1995. For instance, the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command was required by statute to write a security plan for the Games - actually, a "game plan" for providing law enforcement and public safety services throughout the Winter Olympics and the Paralympic Games. Through our Office of Justice Programs (OJP), we have made nearly three million dollars available to assist in the development of that plan. The plan has been written, and it has been tested.
We have also provided funding through OJP to arrange for housing and other services for the law enforcement officers who will be involved in ensuring Olympic public safety during the Games of 2002. We have assisted in providing, and have participated in, training exercises. In addition, we continue to provide support for a planning and operations center.
The Department has always believed that good working relationships among federal, state, and local agencies lead to effective law enforcement. Our efforts to provide needed funding are important. But perhaps as important as anything that I have talked about so far is the role that our Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee has played in connection with the Games.
Our Law Enforcement Coordinating Committees - or LECC's - in each of the 94 districts around the country prove every day that working together enhances the effectiveness of law enforcement in our communities. When I was the U.S. Attorney in Atlanta, I had personal experience with the LECC. I know that the LECC concept works. And nowhere has that been better demonstrated than by the Department's support of the District of Utah's Olympic LECC Initiative.
I will let U.S. Attorney Paul Warner discuss his Office's efforts, but I want to thank him publicly for dedicating a senior Assistant U.S. Attorney - David Schwendiman - to work full-time with the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command. David's efforts have complemented those of other Department personnel who have worked for over three years on preparations for the 2002 Olympic Games. Aided by their efforts, and with the personal involvement of the U.S. Attorney, we have forged effective working relationships with the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies you see before you today, as well as with other agencies and components involved in the day-to-day planning and preparing for the games. This is a coordinated approach that the Department fully supports.
Our second role is crisis management and response. We sincerely hope that through our preparation and planning, we will never have to resort to crisis response. But if anything happens to disrupt the peace and serenity of the Utah Games, it is our responsibility to be prepared to address it. That responsibility is one we also share with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
As you know, in August of 1999, the 2002 Olympics were designated as a National Special Security Event. Consistent with that designation, the FBI - as lead agency for crisis management - is working closely with the Secret Service, FEMA, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement, crisis management, and consequence management agencies to plan not only for security and public safety at the Olympics, but also for crisis response. These efforts are significant, since the Games will involve more than 3,500 athletes participating in events at many official Olympic venues over a very large geographic area. The Paralympics will follow the Winter Games with more than 1,000 athletes participating.
Don Johnson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Salt Lake City Field Office, has done an outstanding job in preparing to meet this challenge. Mr. Johnson and his agents have ensured that their planning efforts are in full partnership with their federal, state, and local law enforcement counterparts. FBI Assistant Director Dale Watson is here, of course, to speak about the FBI's efforts in this regard. He and all our law enforcement partners at this table have my full support.
I want to close by saying that I believe that the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games are exciting and worthwhile. From the Games, heroes are made. They show us and our children the value of dedication and commitment to our goals. They show us that dreams can come true. That is why, as I said before, the Department of Justice is fully committed to working with all the agencies represented on this panel - and all the other federal, state, and local components involved in Olympic planning - to ensure public safety and security for the 2002 Olympic Games.
Mr. Chairman, at this time I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.