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S.L. private investigator preparing for Olympics

His firm will provide visitors quiet protection

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Although the Olympics still are 18 months away, a local private investigator is laying the groundwork to provide security for out-of-state CEOs, celebrities and wealthy, private people who plan to attend the Games.

Steve Ketter is president of Ketter & Associates L.L.C., a 5-year-old private investigation agency, which specializes primarily in insurance fraud, is branching out.

Among other things, his firm does consulting work for corporations, helping them reduce internal and external theft; his firm also does risk-management consulting and vulnerability assessments to minimize the chance of problems occurring. There is a heavy reliance on computers and other technology, rather than man-hours and trench coats, to help firms protect everything from people to proprietary information to products.

Ketter formed a second company, Advance Logistics Group, with a former Secret Service agent as a partner, and they are making plans to offer either direct protection for Olympic visitors or do the legwork for the security companies many celebrities or business people already employ.

They already have experience doing "personal protective work," having handled the security for the Beach Boys and Chicago when these bands came here for Fourth of July celebrations. "A lot of our work involved facilitating their movement from location to location and protection during the venue," Ketter said.

As for the Olympics, he and his partner expect there will be many out-of-state people who will want private-security help.

"Much of what we do is the advance work: going out and doing a survey of the route that the individual (or it could be a performer or group) is taking, confirming security at each of the locations where they're going, which would include dealing with hotels, dealing with event promoters, dealing with the venue. Then just arranging for their secure transport to and from wherever they need to go," Ketter said.

One example of the kind of work Ketter has done is offer security to a business woman who received threats of violence from a former business partner. "She had to fly into Salt Lake to retrieve some business items, to retrieve some personal items from her home in Park City and finalize some business deals. One of the things we did was plan the entire day out for her arrival," Ketter said.

His firm checked the security of the locations where she would be going and then physically escorted her to and from every place.

It isn't his intention to take the place of law enforcement. In fact, coordination with law-enforcement officials may be a key part of a celebrity visit, since some celebrities are so visible.

But often, wealthy business people want their personal comings and goings and the security arrangements for them and their families to be extremely discreet. And they're willing to pay for safety that is provided with discretion.

His company still does some traditional private-investigation work, such as locating missing people, but Ketter said he won't accept cases unless he is sure of the seeker's motives.

"Stalking has been a major concern, not just recently but over a number of years. Whenever we do a 'locate,' my main concern is, 'Exactly why does this person need to know this information?' A good majority of the 'locates' we do are for insurance companies that have a legitimate need to know," he said.

A stickler for professionalism, Ketter was pleased when the Private Investigators Association of Utah was formed in 1994 and began lobbying for changes to shape up an industry that even insiders felt was badly in need of a makeover. Since then, the state adopted a law requiring private investigators to obtain state licenses, which included background checks, and be regulated by the Department of Public Safety, a move Ketter applauds.

E-MAIL: lindat@desnews.com