PanAm Games: Securing a City

Canada’s largest-ever security plan guarding the Pan Am Games is currently bringing a new set of challenges to Toronto, according to local media outlets.

Mike McDonell from an integrated security unit between Toronto Pan Am and Parapan Am Games told CTV’s Canada AM that they corresponded with police units around the world before planning the security for this summer’s events. “"There are a lot of moving parts," said McDonnell to CTV. "It's complex, but we've got a large team and it's very well co-ordinated."

What differentiates the Pan Am Games from previous international events in Canada such as the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and G20 in Toronto is the country’s involvement in military operations overseas in Iraq and Syria, local security expert David Hyde told The Toronto Sun.

“Canada’s terrorism threat profile has changed significantly, even since the Vancouver Olympics,” said Hyde to The Toronto Sun. “We’re much more active on the global stage ... when you have that backdrop, the Pan Am Games is going to have a different threat profile.”

The $239 million (CAD) security budget covers 10 police forces and private security, as well as metal detecting wands, closed circuit televisions and x-ray machines to secure the 6,000 athletes from around the world, reported CTV. Hyde told The Toronto Sun that police may use drones, security cameras, airplanes and internet monitoring to secure the multitude of venues, ranging from downtown Toronto to the city of Hamilton.

The everyday life of an urban center has challenged security efforts, however, as bicyclists and frustrated commuters have breached the fences and other security measures in place. Toronto police Staff-Sergeant Devin Kealey told the Toronto Star that commuters attempting to take shortcuts to reach city transit created gaps in the fences at Pan Am Park located at Exhibition Place, which necessitated a second security sweep of the venue. Although the breach was deemed to be not malicious in intent, it still created security issues for city officials.

CityNews also reported that a woman rode a bicycle through a gap in the fence surrounding Athlete’s Village. “Officials said they don’t think there was any criminal intent to her actions, but that she simply didn’t know she wasn’t allowed to cut through the area,” according to City News.


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