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ACLU of Utah Encourages Comprehensive Training For Olympic Security

10 August 2000 Published in Local Policy Work

Letter to Captain Ed Spann and Agent Dale Weiss of the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command


August 11, 2000

Captain Ed Spann
Agent Dale Weiss
Utah Olympic Public Safety Command
150 East Social Hall #500
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Dear Captain Spann and Agent Weiss,

I’m sorry it’s been so long since we first spoke about the possibility of Salt Lake Impact participating in UOPSC training. Since our meeting last February, we have identified three issues that we hope will be included in your curriculum:

1. Sensitivity to disability issues, including disability recognition, communication with the hearing impaired, and interaction with people with mental illness.

2. An emphasis on information and referral to appropriate services rather than ticketing and jail-time for minor offenses. We feel this is especially important for our homeless population and for those who are not yet proficient in English.

3. A commitment to protected free speech activities that occur in designated free speech zones and in our public streets, parks, sidewalks, and other traditional public forums.

After an inventory of our limited resources, we came up with the following ideas about ways in which we can realistically address these important issues:

Disability Issues

We were very pleased to learn that the Salt Lake City Police Department, in collaboration with Valley Mental Health, the State Division of Mental Health, and the Disability Law Center, has received a grant to create a team of police officers who have specialized training in the recognition of and intervention with people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. I spoke with Salt Lake City Chief Bill Shelton, who said that the training workshops will take place before the 2002 Olympics and will be open to representatives from other law enforcement agencies. If you have any questions about the program or would like to take advantage of their training opportunities, you can reach Chief Shelton at (801) 799-3850.

Information and Referral

Unfortunately, when we met with representatives from the Information and Referral Center, we realized that at this point, we simply cannot know what social services will be available in 2002. We do know that during the winter months, existing services for low-income people are filled to capacity and Volunteers of America estimates that already, approximately 800 individuals camp out. We are extremely concerned that there will be a significant increase in that number during the Olympics and are hopeful that we will be able to get the necessary resources to supply a comparable increase in emergency services. In a message from Sydney, Daniel Williams from The Salvation Army reported that the Australian government has arranged for an extra 400 beds, which will most likely be used to house some of the numerous people who come to the Olympics without knowing where they will stay.

The situation is also complicated by the fact that some services, such as the overflow shelter, will not be in the same location by the time the Olympics take place. Closer to the Olympics, we will give you the most up-to-date information we have regarding emergency social services. In the meantime, you can contact Josh Pederson at The Information and Referral Center at (801) 978-3333 if you have any questions about the enclosed information.

One important bill that will be before the 2001 Utah State Legislature is the establishment of a 211 phone number that people can call to get referrals to appropriate social services. We support this new line, which will free up the 911 number for medical and other emergencies, and we would like to see it in place by the 2002 winter games so that we can adequately deal with the inevitable increase in the need for social services.

Free Speech Activities

We are in the process of creating materials that outline the rights and responsibilities of those who wish to engage in free speech activities. The ACLU of Utah has dedicated its next newsletter to this very issue, and is also sponsoring two “protest” workshops. The first is tentatively scheduled for September 23 and 24, and the second will take place in fall 2001. The first day of this year’s workshop is open to law enforcement, and we hope that some of your members will be interested in attending.

As is evident by this letter, our plans have changed from providing UOPSC with concrete training materials to linking your organization to existing resources or organizing programs within our own organizations. We are still committed to working with UOPSC and are interested in any additional ideas you may have. Please contact me at (801) 521-9862 ext 101 if you have any questions about this letter.


Cori Sutherland
Deputy Director, ACLU of Utah
Member, Salt Lake Impact 2002 & Beyond

cc: Mitt Romney, Salt Lake Olympic Committee