BOSTON -- Massachusetts is better equipped in terms of security to host the Olympics than any other state in the nation, Former Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis told a panel at the Statehouse Tuesday.
Speaking before a special commission charged with determining if it would be feasible for Boston to host the 2024 Olympic Games, Davis said the existing coordination among law enforcement agencies gives the state an edge.
"It's very simple for us to pull together, and not only is it simple, it's something that we practice," said Davis, a Lowell native and former superintendent of the city's police department.
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He pointed to the state's regional law enforcement councils, where police departments group together by neighboring communities to share resources and provide support. The first of these was the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, a consortium of 57 police and sheriff agencies serving the Greater Lowell area.
Davis said the threats around the upcoming Sochi Olympics were due largely to unrest in the nearby Russian republic of Dagestan. Similar security concerns wouldn't rise up around Olympics here, he said, because "we're not fighting a war 600 miles away."
Tuesday's meeting was the fourth in a series of six to be held by the commission before its members release a report to the Legislature in March on the feasibility of a Boston Olympics.
The commission was created by legislation filed by state Sen. Eileen Donoghue, a Lowell Democrat.
"What's uppermost in people's minds right now, because of what's going on in Sochi, is how do we handle security," Donoghue said after the meeting. "Is it possible today, let alone ten years from now? ... Someone like Commissioner Davis, who I would say has the best credentials not only in Massachusetts but nationally and internationally, to hear him say that it is doable, I think was very informative."
The commission also heard from representatives of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Western Massachusetts Sports Commission.
Adam Filson of the Western Massachusetts Sports Commission said that a key to making a Boston Olympics work would be taking advantage of venues throughout the state, including smaller ones in the central and western portions of the state, which could serve as practice facilities.
International visitors to the Olympics would be expected to spend $1,500 in Massachusetts in a three-day visit, not including their tickets or other games-related fees, according to the tourism office.
Hosting the Olympics would involve expanding the Boston area's capacity to host tourists and athletes by constructing venues, adding hotel rooms and improving infrastructure.
Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish, who chairs the commission, said many of the Olympic needs line up with the future needs of Boston and the state.
"If we are going to grow the city of Boston...it can't be done the way we are right now," he said. "Those are the questions to think about going forward. It's not just so much about the Olympics, but the positive impact it can have."
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