Law Enforcement & the Olympics

Law Enforcement & the Olympics

Olympic Law Enforcement Handbook, Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games, 1984. 2009.16.2. Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC.

Are you looking forward to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games? We are! As the countdown to the Opening Ceremony dwindles (July 27), Museum staff scanned the collection for artifacts related to the role of law enforcement at the Olympics.

Local law enforcement agencies are called upon to provide safety and security services during Olympic Games held in the United States.

It’s no surprise that this level of protection involves a huge amount of special planning and preparations, evidenced by the Olympic Law Enforcement Handbook for the 23rd Olympiad held in Los Angeles from July 28 to August 12, 1984 (right).

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) nicknamed those Games “The Sixteen Days of Summer.” During the Games, nearly the entire department had Olympics-related duties in addition to regular patrolling and traffic assignments.

Along with being a lot of hard work, the Olympics can also be an exciting job for officers. Depending on their assignment, officers may have the chance to witness once-in-a-lifetime sporting events and be surrounded by athletes and spectators from all around the world. They may even get a nice souvenir out of it, like this winter uniform coat worn by an officer during the Salt Lake City (UT) Winter Games (2002).

Uniform Coat: Salt Lake City, Utah, Olympic Games, 2002. 2011.21.1. Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC

In addition to being key players in U.S.-hosted Olympic Games, U.S. law enforcement plays a major supporting role in the Special Olympics. The Torch Run is one of the many ways officers support the athletes and raise funds for the Special Olympics organization.

Torch Run participants stop at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, 2010. Washington, DC.

Introduced in 1981 in Wichita, Kan., by then-Police Chief Richard LaMunyon, “the Torch Run is a running event in which officers and athletes carry the Flame of Hope to the Opening Ceremony of local Special Olympics competitions, state/provincial Games, and National Summer or Winter Games,” according to the Special Olympics website. In 2011, the event raised more than $42 million.

The National Law Enforcement Museum’s collection contains a 25th anniversary yearbook from the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics (2006) and a program from the April 13, 2010, Delaware Police Chiefs Council Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Through their involvement with both the Olympic Games and the Special Olympics, we see some of the ways U.S. law enforcement officers connect with and support our communities—whether they’re on or off-duty. We are honored to have pieces in our collection which represent that support. 

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