The head of integrated security for the 2010 Winter Olympics said yesterday Nova Scotia wouldn’t see its RCMP presence negatively affected when the Games take place in Vancouver.
Bud Mercer said security will require a significant amount of RCMP officers from across the country, to go along with Vancouver police, the Canadian Armed Forces and private security members – mainly from Transport Canada.
Some RCMP officers from Nova Scotia will be transferred temporarily to help with security, but Mercer doesn’t expect it to affect police presence in the province's communities.
“There will be little to no impact,” said Mercer, who was in Halifax yesterday to speak with local RCMP detachments. “Annual leave is completely frozen during the period of the Olympics for at least the whole month of February.”
Mercer is a former commander of a municipal police detachment and currently an assistant commissioner for the RCMP. He said shortages in staff are not a rare occurrence, and by freezing annual leave during the Olympics, shortages in staff would be no higher than normal.
The detachments throughout Canada that send officers to Vancouver may receive reimbursement of salaries paid to officers that are away, he said. They can then put that money towards overtime for other officers who may need to pick up the slack.
Mercer’s side of the Games budget is $491 million. The total budget for security for the Games is estimated at $900 million.
In total, he said there would be about 16,000 security officials.
Mercer said his biggest concern for the event is the size and magnitude of securing the Olympics
“It’s like playing three dimensional chess,” he said. “There are so many pieces moving around.”