AComm Bud Mercer
The V2010 Olympic Integrated Security
© 2008 FrontLine Security (Vol 3, No 1)

Canadians are looking forward to celebrating and participating in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and Paralympics Winter Games.
All eyes will be on Canada – the venues, the sports, the ­athletes, the entertainment, and the safety of the Games. Hosting thousands of visitors, athletes and VIPs in an era threatened by global terrorism, increased criminal and fraudulent activities, and home-grown radical multi-issue movements is a challenge to both local authorities and law enforcement agencies. They remain committed to provide the safest and securest environment in 2010. Allowing the world to focus on human achievement – the sports and athletes – while security personnel ensure the safety and security of all is the balanced and measured approach adopted by the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit (V2010-ISU).

The V2010-ISU is an integrated security team led by the Royal ­Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). RCMP Assistant Commissioner Bud Mercer has been assigned the mammoth task of overseeing ­security aspects for the 2010 Olympics. He sat down to discuss how all levels of governments and business partners are preparing to secure the Olympics in an innovative Canadian way.

Bud Mercer
Assistant Commissioner Chief Operations Officer Integrated Security Unit V-2010 Winter Olympics RCMP “E” Division

Bud Mercer’s career spans 31 years through which he has served Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the far north, and points between. In the last 7 years, he has served at Command and Executive levels. He has represented the RCMP in various capacities while working and pursuing educational opportunities in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia.

Prior to assuming responsibility for the Integrated Security Unit for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, he held the positions of the Deputy Criminal Operations Officer responsible for Federal Policing in the province of British Columbia, the Operations Officer for the Lower Mainland District in the Province of British Columbia, the Officer in Charge of the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Police Service, the Officer in Charge of Chilliwack Detachment and a Patrol Duty Officer at Surrey Detachment.

In October 2007, Assistant Commissioner Bud Mercer transferred to his current position as the Chief Operations Officer for the ­Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, Integrated Security Unit.

Q:Assistant Commissioner Mercer, from a security perspective, how do the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games differ from previous international events held in Canada?

First of all, we have to talk about the Olympic Games themselves. The Olympic Games are a sporting event. Our goal is to provide security for a safe and secure Winter Games, on behalf of the athletes, the visitors, the Olympics families, and the ­residents of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. Our objective is for those visiting the Games to remember the mountains, the scenery, the athletes, the gold medals and the celebrations. We want them to remember the 2010 Olympic Games as a sporting event, not a security event. That is the real challenge. What makes the Games different now is that the world really has changed. Past events of 9/11 and 07/07 in London are real reminders that we have to pay attention and work in an integrated manner with all of our partners. We also have to ensure that the measures and the levels of security we take are appropriate given what is going on both at home and abroad. That is the challenge.

Q:Canadians have great expectations for the success of the coming 2010 Winter Olympic games, what are some of the security preparations to date?

The Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit is first an integrated unit – that is our strength. It is led by the RCMP, but includes Vancouver City Police, West Vancouver Police, the Canadian Forces, and other law enforcement partners. Although the Integrated Security Unit has grown exponentially over the years, it has been in ­existence since 2003 and we have progressed in our planning, bringing on other partners as appropriate.

Q:What types of exercises are being prepared to practice elements and procedures for securing the 2010 Games?

Our exercise schedules are integrated with our partners. Several exercises address internal security of systems, but we will also include exercises where we test our systems and our operational assumptions with our federal, provincial, municipal and international partners.

Where it is appropriate, we will be participating in integrated exercises which include all of our partners. Olympic security planning cannot be described as standard security planning, so there are no standardized exercises.

Q:The RCMP is engaged, along with other private and public partners in the Olympic planning operation and coordination. What are the practical challenges faced to date in coordinating with other ­departments and levels of government?

I think the greatest challenge is simply the size and magnitude of the operation. There are many challenges, but none of them are insurmountable. The challenge itself comes from the sheer size of the operation and the number of governments and private sector partners involved. These are very positive challenges that we are resolving as we progress.

Q:What coordinated measures are taken to avoid the risk of creating public safety gaps during the course of the sporting event?

The structure of the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit is specifically designed to eliminate gaps. We are fully integrated – not only with our security ­partners, but also with our public safety partners at the federal and provincial levels. The Integrated Security Unit coordinates its planning with that of our partners, and vice versa.

Q:What mechanisms have been established to strengthen the security coordination network between all partners involved in the security preparations?

That is a huge question, as you can imagine. We sit on a number of federal, provincial, local and international committees to ensure that our efforts are aligned and coordinated. In addition, our exercise regime for the next two years will ensure that our systems are prepared and that our efforts are aligned, tested and coordinated.

Q:Do you have any particular concerns regarding the security preparations for the 2010 Winter Games?

There are existing systems in place, within the RCMP and within our law enforcement partners, to coordinate and educate all of our partners to be watchful and vigilant.

Our operations plans have gone through a number of revisions and are continually being reassessed internally and externally. I have absolutely no doubt that we will be ready when the time comes.

I think Canadians should and will be proud of the balanced, measured approach that the Integrated Security Unit is taking in security planning. It is my hope that Canadians, athletes and visitors will remember the 2010 Olympic Games as a sporting event, and that they will remember the gold medals and the athletes, and the beauty of British Columbia and of Canada.

Josué Kibambe Muaka Bambi is a Research Analyst – FSWEP, Protective Policing, RCMP NHQ. He is a Master’s Candidate in Criminology at the University of Ottawa.
© FrontLine Security 2008