Vancouver Games officials say changes made in wake of stadium security breach

The Canadian Press ~ The News
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

VANCOUVER - Olympic organizers and security officials have had to tweak their security arrangements - a $900-million plan that's been years in the making - after a man managed to get into the Olympic opening ceremonies and come within a few metres of U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden.
Senior officials for the Vancouver organizing committee, known as VANOC, and the civilian chief of the federal government's security operation said Thursday the system of layered security kept the mentally unstable man from getting really close to Biden.
However, they said changes have been made, including tightening security at B.C. Place stadium.
"What I can tell you is he entered through a non-spectator entrance and that the systems and processes for the credential checks, the security in all of those areas, have been tightened up," said Renee Smith-Valade, VANOC's chief spokeswoman.
Sgt. Rich Graydon, RCMP-lead Olympic Integrated Security Unit spokesman, said changes have since been made with ISU entrance supervisors now taking a closer "mentoring" role with the privately-employed screeners.
"We're not doing their jobs for them," he stressed.
Questions to Contemporary Security Canada, the private consortium responsible for the 5,000 screeners at Olympic venues, were referred to the ISU.
In relation to the first incident, neither VANOC nor police would release further details on how exactly a man with a crudely forged pass copied from the Internet could get through the stadium's exterior security perimeter, heavily covered by cameras.
"I am not in a position to give you any further details than we have given because that could potentially compromise the security of the venue," Smith-Valade said.
VANOC officials said the phoney pass was not used to gain access and the man successfully cleared metal-detector screening inside the venue because he had no weapon.
The ISU said some of their officers detailed to help the U.S. Secret Service guard Biden in the stadium's VIP area spotted the man in an area he wasn't supposed to be, about 12 rows from the vice-president.
They intercepted him and steered him into a hallway, then arrested him when he tried to flee.
The man, who wasn't named, was turned over to the Vancouver police, given a psychiatric assessment and released without charges.
The secret service was not involved in the incident and said the ISU assured them Biden was never in danger. The man was reportedly "infatuated" with Biden and ISU officials said he meant no harm.
Secret Service spokesman Malcolm Wiley said from Washington the agency was getting updates from the ISU on its investigation of the breach and deferred comment to the RCMP.
"I think it's safe to say that there was never any threat, or perceived threat, felt on the vice-president's behalf, and he may not have even been aware of it," said Charles Smith, a spokesman at the U.S. consulate in Vancouver.
Officials insist the security system worked.
"That is the way the system is designed to work - multiple layers that ultimately result in a safe and secure environment for everyone who's inside that venue," said Smith-Valade.
Dave Cobb, VANOC's deputy chief executive officer, said the person was stopped because of the procedures that are in place.
"It's a reminder that we need to be diligent but this Games theatre was not set up as a fortress," he said.
That view was echoed by Ward Elcock, federal security co-ordinator for the 2010 Games and the upcoming G8 summit in Toronto.
"It is all about layered security," Elcock, a former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said in an interview from Ottawa.
"The reality is you can't build security around a single hard layer. No layer of security, no matter how good you are, no matter what country you're in, no matter what security service is running, is going to be absolutely perfect."
Elcock said a week into the Games, Olympic venue security has worked well, despite last Friday's lapse.
"As long as you've got human beings and buildings with odd doorways and so on and so forth, security is not always going to be absolutely perfect," he said. "So layers are key."
For something like the Olympics, said Elcock, security must balance the need to get thousands of people into a venue on schedule.
"Perfect security is not letting anybody into the building until they've all taken their clothes off and you've made sure they're not carrying anything."

Organizations: ISU, RCMP, U.S. Secret Service Olympic Integrated Security Unit Games theatre Canadian Security Intelligence Service

Geographic location: VANCOUVER, B.C. Place stadium, Washington U.S. Toronto Ottawa

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments