<i>48 Hours:</i> Winter Olympics Lawman

Bob Flowers Has Most Watched Law Enforcement Job In America

Next month, Bob Flowers will be the most important lawman in America.

Utah’s Public Safety Commissioner, Flowers is running the biggest, and probably the most expensive, security operation ever - protecting the Salt Lake City Olympics.

His budget runs to some $300 million and even the contingency fund seems unlimited.

“It’s going to cost what its going to cost, whether its three million, five million, six million, eight million or ten million, “ he says.

Flowers gave 48 Hours an exclusive aerial tour to show the scope of the security challenge he faces with 10 Olympic venues spread out over Salt Lake City and northern Utah, an area roughly the size of the state of Delaware.

Flowers admits to a few sleepless nights when he considers how many venues, how many spectators and how many athletes he’s responsible for.

“I worry about it a great deal,” he says. “ If you look at it on a grand scale, it can be overwhelming, but we’ve broken that down into smaller, manageable units and we have really good people in charge.”

His staff will protect 10 venues, 3,500 athletes, 13,000 members of the media, and 175,000 daily spectators.

To do it, he has marshaled a staff of 8,000 from every imaginable law enforcement agency in the country. Playing a significant part in Flower’s large police department will be more than 1,000 agents from the FBI, who allowed 48 Hours crews to get footage of their undercover people practicing the way to shoot to kill, in cold weather conditions.

Don Johnson, who runs the FBI’s office in Salt Lake and has helped Flowers develop the security plan for more than a year, says there has been no known credible threat against the games.

“Our biggest concern is for the most part,” he says, “[is] the lone terrorist, that’s out there. An individual acting alone, as we had in Atlanta - doesn’t belong to a group, has a cause and there is not much information about him. That’s our biggest concern.”

No one was ever caught in the bombing six years ago during the Summer Games in Atlanta that killed a woman and injured more than 100 others. Police believe a lone bomber was responsible.

“It’s a shame that we remember the Atlanta games by that,” says Flowers. “It really is. It’s kind of a tragedy, actually.”

The terrorism of Sept. 11 pretty much rewrote Flower’s job description. It meant he now had to think about - and plan for - the unthinkable

“I remember,” he says, “when I received the phone call at home that said, ‘Turn your television on and know that this is real.’”

The FBI’s Special Agent Jane Broadway is ready to deploy a robotic laboratory to investigate chemical, biological and even radioactive weapons.

Venue security will be unprecedented, Flowers says, with security checking every hot dog, every pen, every box, every coca cola that comes in here.” The U.S. Secret Service, the people who protect the president, is charged with that job.

The athletes, who will live in a fortress-like village that used to be a military base, will be guarded intensely.

The FBI’s Regional Enhanced SWAT team, a 42-person team specially trained for anti-terrorist situations, has been practicing since last summer in the mountains of Northern California. F-16 fighter jets will have orders to shoot down any unauthorized aircraft.

And while he claims “there’s no place I’d rather be than right here,” Flowers also will be glad when the curtain comes down on closing ceremonies. On that day, he says, “When you hear that yell, that’s me. That’s not the crowd of 100,000.”

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