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Park May Be Ringed With Metal Detectors

Sun., July 28, 1996

Centennial Olympic Park was the surprise hit of the Summer Games, a relaxed oasis of free movement in a city where sports venues had been transformed into heavily policed fortresses.

On Saturday, however, the downtown park was closed indefinitely as federal investigators examined the debris scattered across its surface by an early morning bomb that killed one person and injured more than 100 others.

And Olympic security planners began examining their $300 million system of safeguards.

Signs of increased policing were evident almost immediately after the 1:25 a.m. bombing, as heavily armed soldiers were sent to competition venues and ticket holders were greeted in the morning by tougher and lengthier security checks.

Little was said Saturday about what changes could be made at the park, but officials were clearly looking at stricter controls for the 21-acre site.

“One obvious option would be ‘mag’ the park,” said one source, referring to magnetometers or metal detectors, such as those used at the airport.

xxxx SECURITY BY THE NUMBERS The size of the Olympic security force, which was concentrated at the venues and failed to protect visitors from a bomb at Centennial Park: 30,000 police, military, private guards High-tech surveillance equipment 1,000 bomb experts 40 bomb-sniffing dogs $227 million in federal funds SOURCE: News reports Knight-Ridder Tribune

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