The cost of the Olympic security force ahs been estimated to be $1 billion dollars. That is a lot of money for sure.
Letâ€™s look at the personnel involved, 6000 police officers from around the country, 5000 Canadian Forces soldiers, US Secret service (sure they were there) and assorted hired security forces not to mention private security guards plus 1000 security cameras in downtown Vancouver.
Living and working in Vancouver, I expected a show of force on every corner as did most Vancouverites which over the few weeks as the Olympics drew close our fears of a police state grew.
The first day there was a riot by hooded activists. The police arrived but refused to be goaded into attacking the young men who spat, pushed and yelled verbal abuse at them. The world was surprised at the police show of patience.
Over the next few days I heard large military helicopters, the occasional F-18 military jet but no sign of the army, or large squads of police. I knew the police were there but where?
At a major Olympic venue downtown, Live City, I notice a small group of late teens looking at a digital camera. I was standing close to two huge Vancouver policemen who were engaged in conversation. Suddenly, the larger of the two walks swiftly over to the group of young men about 30 feet away. I didnâ€™t know what to expect but it should have been a coke commercial. The cop stopped put out his hand for the camera and offered to take a pic of the group. Shock and awe comes to mind.
As I walk through downtown my wife and I notice police in pairs but the odd part was there on one corner talking to tourists is a pair of police from Edmonton, themselves tourists. All in different uniforms the police from far afield really added another dimension to the festivities. Police from all over Canada were doing their duty and added to the atmosphere.
The most incredible thing was during the Gold Hockey playoff between Canada and the US there were thousands of fans outside the rink watching on huge plasma screens. In the midst of those thousands, a young group of men had brought hockey sticks and a ball and has an impromptu road hockey game in the street of downtown Vancouver withâ€¦ the police. Yes, in uniform, a half dozen on duty police were making the grade by example. Of course they won the short game. A news crew close-by captured the game for posterity.
The Olympics gave all attending an incredible sense of comfort, safety and role modeling never seen before. I am amazed, delighted but as a Canadian expected them to be that way. We are so lucky to live in a country with such professionals. Thanks guys!