LANE ONE: LA28 organizers, City of Los Angeles and State of California get a head start on public safety cooperative

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One of the most complex, difficult and fluid efforts required to stage the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles will be in the security sector thanks to real, perceived, expired and forecasted threats from local, regional, national and international actors.

The effort to manage this sector is taking an important move forward with the establishment – seven years ahead of the Games – of the “California Olympic and Paralympic Safety Command.” A memorandum of understanding with the beginning outline of the program was released by the City Administrative Office (CAO) and Chief Legislative Analyst (CLA) of the City of Los Angeles late Thursday (18th).

This plan will be considered on the 23rd (Tuesday) by the City’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Olympic Games and must be approved by the City Council, by Mayor Eric Garcetti, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and LA28.

The 14-page document acknowledges that the outlined activities are only the start of a very long and involved process:

● A 2019 State bill directed the California Office of Emergency Services to create the Cooperative, to include the City of Los Angeles in the framework of an agreement by 31 March 2021.

“To further the shared goals of the Cooperative as well as the interests of each of the three Participants (i.e. CalOES, City, and LA28), unanimous consent by the Participants is required for approval of various actions of the Cooperative.”

“These actions include approval of: all costs and obligations of the Cooperative, financial policies, authorization of funding requests to State and Federal agencies, requests for designation of the 2028 Games to be a National Special Security Event (NSSE), decision making processes, and other terms of reference for the Executive Council and Cooperative.”

“Funding is not currently identified for the activities of the Cooperative or the costs incurred by Participants. It is anticipated that the Cooperative will prepare a request for federal grant funding to support its planning and operational activities.”

Subcommittees or working groups are expected to be established to work on:

(1) Policies and procedures, including those related to equity, transparency, and accountability;
(2) Training;
(3) Community engagement;
(4) Procurement;
(5) Finance and administration, personnel, equipment and logistics management;
(6) Command and control, and related systems;
(7) Public Affairs;
(8) Technology; and,
(9) Threat Assessment.

At the core of the program is that “The Cooperative shall utilize a Unified Command Structure for planning with attention to resourcing, training, and management that must be common to all involved agencies and jurisdictions. The Cooperative will agree on common procedures for Members, aimed at improving collaboration, mutual aid, and connectivity among agencies and jurisdictions. Consistent with its Unified Command Structure, the Cooperative will respect the jurisdictional, legal, and functional responsibilities of its members.”

This will include many more organizations than the three initial members. Based on the existing LA28 venue plan, law enforcement agencies to be added would at least include:

● Anaheim Police Department
● Inglewood Police Department
● Long Beach Police Department
● Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office
● Riverside County Sheriff’s Office
● Santa Monica Police Department

Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Secret Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will participate as observers.

An annual report on the activities of the Cooperative is to be issued at least annually. The initial points of contact for each member include L.A. Police Chief Michel Moore or Lt. Shannon White; Tom Osborne, the Deputy Director of CalOES and LA28 senior advisor Doug Arnot, an enormously-experienced mega-event executive who worked on the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City and the 2012 Olympic Games in London (GBR), among many other events.

There is no funding – or expenditure – accompanying the Memorandum of Understanding; the text notes “This Memorandum does not involve the exchange of funds, nor does it represent any obligation of funds by either Participant.”

The designation of the 2028 Games as a National Special Security Event (NSSE) is a foregone conclusion; this program was created was Congress in December 2000 (P.L. 106-544) and includes Presidential nominating conventions, Presidential inaugurations, “major international summits held in the United States and “major sporting events.”

The designation of an event as an “NSSE” is made by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Then:

“When an event is designated an NSSE, [U.S. Secret Service] becomes the lead federal agency in developing, exercising, and implementing security operations. The goal of these security operations is to ‘develop and implement a seamless security plan that will create a safe and secure environment for the general public, event participants, Secret Service protectees, and other dignitaries.’”

This is serious business, as attendees at any recent Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup or other major event will recognize. The Congressional Research Office summary of the NSSE program notes:

“NSSE operational plans include the use of physical infrastructure security fencing, barricades, special access accreditation badges, K-9 teams, and other security technologies. To ensure consequence management, DHS pre-positions Domestic Emergency Support Teams, Urban Search and Rescue Teams, National Emergency Response Teams, Nuclear Incident Response Teams, and assets from the Strategic National Stockpile and Mobile Emergency Response System.”

“Specific teams and groupings of teams are designed for each event based on coordination with other federal entities, state and local jurisdictions, available local resources, and mutual aid agreements.”

“Additionally, USSS sponsors training seminars for command-level federal, state,
and local law enforcement and public safety officials to provide principles for managing security at major events and strategies for reducing vulnerabilities related to terrorism. The seminars also discuss key strategies and lessons learned from past NSSEs.”

A list of NSSE-designated events from 1998-2015 included two sports programs: the 2002 NFL Super Bowl in New Orleans, and the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, both following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. Other editions of the Super Bowl have also been designated as NSSE programs.

This is a good start for security coordination for the 2028 Games, especially in view of the many law enforcement and security agencies in southern California. And it’s well ahead of the security effort for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, which did not formally kick off until October 1981 with the creation of the Olympic Law Enforcement Coordinating Council (OLECC).

This was a first-of-its-kind effort to bring area agencies together, and the inter-agency cooperation which was created by this working group was a continuing legacy of the Games well beyond 1984. An “Integrated Planning Group” brought in additional expertise from U.S. Customs, the Bureau of Arms, Tobacco & Firearms, the California Department of Transportation and local police forces such as the UCLA Police Department.

The Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee contracted and paid directly for security services that were above and beyond normal policing activities inside Olympic venue perimeters with six different agencies:

● $28.7 million to the Los Angeles Police Department
(of which there were unused funds that were refunded to the LAOOC);
● $282,881 to Orange County;
● $148,655 to Ventura County;
● $131,609 to the City of Monterey Park;
● $110,000 to the City of Anaheim;
● $35,000 to San Bernardino County.

In all, the LAOOC spent $35.3 million on the security function for the 1984 Games (~$88.9 million in 2021). The U.S. Congress made a one-time appropriation of $45.0 million for the Department of Defense, in December 1983, to support security efforts for the Games (P.L. 98-212). The equipment used for the Games was initially deployed for the 16-19 July Democratic National Convention in San Francisco and, after the Games ended, used again at the 20-23 August Republican National Convention in Dallas.

The ultimately-successful security effort in 1984 was due to excellent planning and good inter-agency cooperation, a new concept at the time. The effort for 2028 will be much larger and require much more coordination in our digital times, so the formation of an inter-agency working group seven years ahead of the Games is a welcome sign of progress.

Rich Perelman

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