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U.S. likely to bolster security

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Park City's Main Street will be receiving additional police officers to patrol the open area during the Olympics, Utah's Olympic security commander said.

The addition of police will help bolster security for an area that raised concerns with U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft during his visit to Utah.

Park City police voiced concerns to Ashcroft that the city's Main Street, where thousands of Olympic visitors are expected to gather, did not have enough police officers.

Utah Olympic Public Safety Commander Robert Flowers confirmed the area was the spot Ashcroft was concerned with.

"It's simply an open area full of stores and we want to have the resources there," Flowers said. "The (Park City) police chief had a conversation with John Ashcroft and John Ashcroft said, 'Let me see what I can do.' "

The 30 to 90 officers could come from a number of federal agencies, including the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

While confirming the increase in security, UOPSC officials refute a story in Tuesday's New York Times which reported Ashcroft had requested "major changes" to Olympic security plans after he discovered "blind spots" during a personal review of those details.

"There was nothing that they didn't discover that we didn't already know," Flowers said during a news conference called Tuesday to refute the New York Times story.

The U.S. Department of Justice also released a statement Tuesday downplaying any criticisms Ashcroft had of the security plan.

"Ashcroft's proposal to increase the law enforcement presence at the Winter Olympics is in response to his visit to Salt Lake City earlier this month and the extensive meetings that he had with the excellent state-of-the-art security operation in place for the Olympics," the statement said.

The statement also said Ashcroft "was tremendously impressed with the unprecedented and seamless cooperation of more than 60 agencies involved in the Olympics."

UOPSC Executive Director David Tubbs said Olympic security planners could use between 30 and 90 additional officers in the area.

Following his visit, Ashcroft raised three areas of concern, including the need for more officers at the specific area outside a venue. The other two concerns were "minor," according to Tubbs.

One included an issue with infrastructure protection and the second dealt with an item, which Tubbs would not specify, inside a venue. The issues that had been raised had already been taken care of," Tubbs said.

Flowers also refuted reports that Ashcroft called for additional security training before the Olympics.

"We're operational right now."

E-mail: djensen@desnews.com