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April 18, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

U. officer going to Winter Olympics

For many people, being a spectator at the Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime event. This winter at the Salt Lake City Games one University police officer will be working his second Olympics. John Shumaker, sergeant, served as an officer at the Atlanta Games and will do so again in Salt Lake City when the winter Olympics begin in February.

“Just being there for the whole Olympic experience is fantastic,” he said. “Where else can I see athletes of that caliber compete?”

Shumaker said he applied to go to Salt Lake City about a year ago and found out in May that he would be going for sure. Operations Lt. Dave Weekly was one of his fellow officers who recommend him for the job.

“He’s very good, very professional. He comes back with a lot of networking, which helps us here,” he said.

Shumaker said he and the rest of the officers at the Atlanta Games were restricted in the duties they were given, mostly running X-ray machines and making sure areas around the city were locked at night. However, he said he will have the opportunity in Salt Lake City to do much more.

“When I was assigned to Olympic Village (in Atlanta) I didn’t do anything else. Here, I might be assigned to bobsledding one day and hockey the next, so we’ll get a chance to see everything.”

According to Shumaker, hundreds of officers from outside Utah will be at the games and will be given full arrest power.

“At Salt Lake City it’s going to be like a real police function,” he said. “Utah doesn’t have enough officers in the state. That’s why they have to bring everyone else in.”

Numbers of officers and their duties may be forced to change, however, as the Olympic Committee is re-evaluating its security due to the terrorist attacks on Tuesday.

Shumaker said that federal investigators may not be available for the Olympics because of ongoing investigations in New York and Washington.

“It’s always on the back of my mind (possible terrorist attack),” he said. “Park City Utah has a nuclear reactor. I’m sure that’s going to cause a few problems.”

Shumaker was at the 1996 games when the bomb went off in Atlanta. However, the FBI and not the officers handled investigations.

“We left the stage area like 15 minutes to a half hour before it went off. I did take pictures of it,” he said.

Having already served as an officer at one Olympics should make this one more enjoyable from the beginning, Shumaker said.

“Last time when I went there I had no idea what to expect,” he said. “Then when I got there I saw the magnitude of what it takes to pull off the event. Every law enforcement agency in the United States was represented.”

Although he has been assigned to numerous Bowling Green football games, those experiences could not fully prepare him for what the Olympics would be.

“The crowds there were a lot larger than any we could ever have here. They pack the maximum number of spectators they can into the arenas,” he said. “I wasn’t used to all the camera crews that were there, either.”

Even though he spent four weeks in Atlanta and now will be spending three weeks in Salt Lake City, Shumaker said coming back to the smaller town of Bowling Green will not be hard.

“It’s nice to go away, but it’s nice to come back, also, and see what I can change here and incorporate here,” he said. “You pretty much were treated like a number there.”

New ways of conducting police business and how to possibly improve upon the University police division is one thing Shumaker hopes to gain from meeting the many other officers who are there. “Last time I brought back so much knowledge, from how they do things; making sure all fire exits are accessible before the games and that we have fire and EMS personnel there,” he said. “Things we sometimes take for granted here.”

One of the hardest aspects of being an officer at the Olympics he said is working with officers from other countries.

“I might have been working the X-ray machines (in Atlanta) with someone from East Germany. There was a big language barrier,” he said.

While Shumaker will be going to the Olympics to work, he said he will also enjoy being a spectator as well.

“They (Utah Olympic Public Safety Command) promise a six day week working eight to 10 hours a day and will have a list of planned activities for us to do when we’re off, so I look forward to that,” he said. “Also, with our credentials we’ll have an unlimited pass so we can see any event we want. There isn’t always a seat available, but we can stand in the back and watch.”

Weekly said he is envious of the opportunities that Shumaker has had and will have working at the Olympic Games.

“I would like to go, but I can’t get away. We don’t have enough officers here to send more than one,” he said. “I think it would be quite an experience.”

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