A se­cu­rity evo­lu­tion since ’84

Pro­tec­tion of Games seen as a unique chal­lenge for LAPD.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Richard Win­ton

Dur­ing the 1984 Sum­mer Olympics, Charles Beck was a young Los An­ge­les po­lice sergeant as­signed to pa­trol the Ath­letes Vil­lage at UCLA and the Coli­seum.

There was a lot of se­cu­rity, the now-chief re­called, along with po­lice he­li­copters pa­trolling by air and bomb squads on hand.

But the near­est thing to high tech­nol­ogy was an elec­tronic badge sys­tem: 4x5 iden­tity cards for ath­letes, dig­ni­taries and jour­nal­ists that gave them ac­cess to se­cure fa­cil­i­ties dur­ing the games.

the 2028 Olympic Games, tech­nol­ogy will play a much more cen­tral role in pro­tect­ing the Games.

Modern-day de­fense isn’t about a show of force as much as de­tec­tion, preven­tion and dis­rup­tion, Beck and oth­ers say.

Many threats loom

In the evolv­ing world of ter­ror­ism and other threats, a key­board, a drone or a com­puter virus could be as deadly as a gun, they say.

The po­ten­tial tar­gets have also evolved — not just main venues but “soft tar­gets” where peo­ple gather. And vi­o­lence is just one sce­nario the 2028 se­cu­rity team will have to con­sider. An­other is hack­ing.

“It is tough to say,” Beck said of the threats 11 years from now. “I would imag­ine by that time cy­ber­se­cu­rity is go­ing to be all en­com­pass­ing.”

Beck said he ex­pects the tra­di­tional threats of ex­plo­sives, guns and other deadly weapons would re­main, but a new gen­er­a­tion of ter­ror and sab­o­tage will likely evolve.

“It will be the fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity of the Games, the fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity of the city, the pro­tec­tion of in­fra­struc­ture from hack­ers,” Beck said.

Lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenge

With the Games set to be de­clared a na­tional spe­cial se­cu­rity event, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, through the Se­cret Ser­vice, will lead the mul­ti­ple-agency law en­force­ment ef­fort.

Beck said the ap­proach is go­ing to be vi­tal be­cause of the vast num­bers of per­son­nel needed over so many weeks.

“The Los An­ge­les Po­lice De­part­ment can­not grow ap­pre­cia­bly in 10 years even if the city was funded enough and had the po­lit­i­cal will to do it … maybe 11,000 or 12,000 [of­fi­cers] by then,” said the chief of the nearly 10,000-of­fi­cer agency.

“Get­ting enough per­son­nel de­ployed for se­cu­rity for the Games will be big,” he said. “It is go­ing to re­quire a lot of part­ner­ships.”

Beck said his job is to build the foun­da­tion for his suc­ces­sors by strength­en­ing the de­part­ment, com­mu­nity re­la­tions and part­ner­ships with other South­ern Cal­i­for­nia law en­force­ment agen­cies.

Mike Down­ing, for­mer deputy chief of coun­tert­er­ror­ism at the LAPD, said those agen­cies must not re­act to an at­tack like the 1996 At­lanta Olympics bomb­ing but thwart it.

“It is great to have the fire­power, but the preven­tion side of the equa­tion is so much more im­por­tant: good in­tel­li­gence and good dis­rup­tion,” he said.

Down­ing, now ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of se­cu­rity for Pre­vent Ad­vi­sors who ad­vises ma­jor venues, said that at the 1984 Olympics he sat atop a build­ing at UCLA with night-vi­sion gog­gles. To­day, the city can be blan­keted with cam­eras aided by fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy.

“You can put them up and take them down, po­si­tion them at all ma­jor points and use mesh net­works to sup­port them,” he said.

Un­cer­tain costs

In bid­ding for the Games 11 years out, the cost and strat­egy of se­cu­rity is al­most un­pre­dictable, ex­perts say. The es­ti­mate for L.A.’s 2024 Olympics bid was $2 bil­lion, and that is ex­pected to rise for 2028.

Brian Jenk­ins, se­nior ad­vi­sor to Rand Corp.’s pres­i­dent and a top ter­ror­ism ex­pert, said his­tory has shown that it is hard to preCome dict the fu­ture more than a decade for­ward, not­ing that the Arab Spring and its up­heaval were not fore­seen, nor was the in­flu­ence of the In­ter­net.

“Ten years out and you are in the en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness, not the anal­y­sis busi­ness,” he cau­tioned. But he said weapons and tac­tics use tend to change more slowly.

The Is­lamic State prob­a­bly won’t be the threat it is now in 11 years, but “some­thing else will and I as­sume it will be ter­ror­ist-based,“Beck said.

Brian Levin, a ter­ror­ism ex­pert and pro­fes­sor at Cal State San Bernardino, said the re­cent at­tacks in Paris, Nice, Manch­ester and Lon­don are forc­ing those se­cur­ing the Olympics to re­assess mea­sures as ter­ror groups ig­nore iconic tar­gets and pick soft tar­gets to max­i­mize body count.

“It is one thing to pro­tect the Olympic Vil­lage and the venues. But the open ar­eas in the city are go­ing to need pro­tect­ing,” he said. “Cen­ten­nial Park in At­lanta, where the 1996 Olympic bomb­ing oc­curred, was a soft tar­get. Hard­en­ing the venue is no longer good enough.”

With more than 700 square miles of ur­ban sprawl, L.A. presents a unique chal­lenge with venues vast dis­tances apart, Levin said. That will re­quire more eyes.

“Drones are the fu­ture of law en­force­ment,” he said, es­pe­cially in a me­trop­o­lis like L.A., where they can re­lay real-time in­for­ma­tion to of­fi­cers on the ground.

Jules Boykoff, a pol­i­tics pro­fes­sor at Pa­cific Uni­ver­sity in Ore­gon who has writ­ten ex­ten­sively about the the Olympics, said Olympics se­cu­rity has been shaped by a se­ries of events: the 1972 ter­ror­ist at­tack at the Mu­nich Games, the 1996 At­lanta bomb­ing and the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

“9/11 changed the 2002 Salt Lake City Win­ter Games. Se­cu­rity costs went through the roof,” Boykoff said.

He said that in Salt Lake City, mas­sive se­cu­rity re­sources on an un­prece­dented scale were de­ployed for the first time.

In May, a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency whistle­blower filed a law­suit al­leg­ing that the agency em­ployed full surveil­lance on phones and the In­ter­net in the re­gion dur­ing the Games — do­ing to Amer­i­can cit­i­zens what it does over­seas. The NSA de­nied the al­le­ga­tion.

Com­mu­nity ties

Boykoff said the 1984 Games — with a more than $200-mil­lion profit — are re­mem­bered as a fi­nan­cial suc­cess.

But he said it’s also im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that crime crack­downs in ad­vance of the Games also sowed con­cerns in L.A.’s African Amer­i­can com­mu­nity.

“The Olympics tend to dis­place and make feel un­wanted the poor­est sec­tions of the com­mu­nity,” he said.

Beck, who spent years help­ing to push through re­forms at the LAPD af­ter the 1992 ri­ots, said he didn’t be­lieve that ten­sions be­tween the de­part­ment and mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties stemmed from the Olympics.

The chief said his ex­pe­ri­ence of 1984 was a com­ing to­gether.

“Ev­ery­body liv­ing in the basin … felt a per­sonal stake in show­ing the best of the city, show­ing the best of the Games.”

Mar­cus Yam Los An­ge­les Times

MAYOR Eric Garcetti an­nounces the ap­proval of a host con­tract Fri­day for the 2028 Games. Tech­nol­ogy, and po­ten­tial threats, have changed since 1984.

Mar­cus Yam Los An­ge­les Times

MAYOR Eric Garcetti with city of­fi­cials af­ter the ap­proval of the host city con­tract Fri­day. With the Games set to be de­clared a na­tional spe­cial se­cu­rity event, the U.S. gov­ern­ment will lead the law en­force­ment ef­fort.

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