By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
Not everyone can describe being selected to join the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command as "just another assignment," but then again not everyone is Moffat County Sheriff's Deputy Vic Alton.
Alton, who has been in law enforcement for 30 years, and served a tour in Bosnia with the Armed Forces, will be representing the Moffat County Sheriff's Office while on duty at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
"It's just another assignment. It's a part of law enforcement," Alton said.
"I'm looking forward to doing it. I'll be meeting people from different agencies and different countries, and enjoying a change of scenery."
A Law Enforcement Volunteer (LEVOL) program was created last summer for out-of-state volunteers to assist Utah law enforcement personnel with Olympic venue policing and security.
Utah law enforcement departments first looked to adjacent states and federal departments for assistance, then widened the search to the entire country.
The LEVOL program received more than 1,200 applications from certified law enforcement officers from around the U. S., selecting 600 of the candidates to travel to Utah for the Olympic games.
Alton will be serving with the command for 20 days, and most of his expenses will be covered by the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command, under the aegis of the United States Olympic Committee.
The command called for all the volunteers that a department could offer, but the size of the Moffat County Sheriff's Office allowed for only one officer to be sent.
"There was a request for mutual aid from the Utah agencies last summer, and we had to pick one person to go we're a small department, we can't send a lot of people," Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead said. "With his job experience and past history, we felt that Vic was the best suited to deal with a large event like the Olympics."
The Utah Olympic Public Safety Command will provide law enforcement, fire, emergency medical and emergency management operations for the 2002 Winter Games. The command consists of 20 local, state and federal agencies.
"We are very pleased with the level of support we have felt from around the country," said Robert L. Flowers, Utah Public Safety Commissioner and Commander of the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command. "We couldn't do it without this involvement."
Alton, who now lives in Dinosaur, has been with the MCSO since February of 2000.
He has lived in Northwestern Colorado since 1981, working for the Garfield and Routt County Sheriff's Offices and the Craig Police Department before assuming his current position.
In 1998, Alton worked a six-month tour of duty as a police officer in Bosnia, working for the United Nations' International Police Task Force.
Alton was one of 36 law enforcement officers selected from more than 3,000 applicants from across the U. S.
"There was a lot of destruction, of both people and the country itself," Alton said. "We were attempting to teach the Bosnian police force how to adopt Western law enforcement tactics. All of the U.N. nations participated, sending law enforcement personnel. I met a lot of different people."
In response to the attacks of Sept. 11, local and federal authorities have worked to improve security measures for the Games by ensuring the safety the participants and spectators.
"When this all came up, I wasn't concerned that was last summer and September 11 hadn't happened yet," Alton said. "I guess [the terrorist attacks] is something that will always be in the back of my mind while I'm there.
"We'll be responsible for everything, and have full arrest and police powers for the state of Utah," he said. "I'll be working out of the Salt Lake Olympic Center. That'll include the Salt Palace and the medal presentation area. I'll be moving throughout the different Olympic venues."
The 2002 Winter Olympic Games will be held in Salt Lake City Feb. 8 through February 24.