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Olympic rent-a-cops cost more than RCMP

The budget for 5,000 private security guards at 2010 Winter Olympics venues could end up higher than the estimated cost to staff the airport-style checkpoints with RCMP officers only.

The RCMP Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit announced a maximum $97.419 million deal Thursday with the Vancouver office of Salt Lake City-headquartered Contemporary International. Contemporary partnered with Aeroguard Group of Toronto and United Protection Services of Edmonton to create Contemporary Security Canada.

An April 25, 2007 RCMP document released via Access to Information included two cost estimates for pedestrian and vehicle screening areas. The members only option was $91.77 million. A second option using mainly private screeners came in at $79.8 million. Both estimates included $45.61 million for equipment.

Contemporary's website said it offers security, planning and event management services. It had contracts for various functions at the last six Olympic Games dating back to Atlanta 1996. The VANOC website said Contemporary was awarded a security integration contract on March 19. Contemporary executives were not available for immediate comment.

Aeroguard is the privately owned chief security screening contractor for the Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority at Canadian airports. United is a TSX Venture Exchange-listed company which includes an aboriginal-operated and staffed division called United First Nations Corp.

Meanwhile, the RCMP also announced a $30.5 million deal with Honeywell Canada to equip venue fences with sensors and video cameras. That deal was actually signed more than a month earlier on March 13. The total coverage area is 40 kilometres.

The federal government announced the Games' $900 million security budget on Feb. 19. It is five-times greater than the original $175 million budget.

V2010 ISU chief Bud Mercer said Feb. 20 that his agency's share was $491.9 million, which included $306.3 million for operations, $177.5 million for personnel and $8.1 million for capital expenditures.

On Feb. 20, Mercer said 7,000 RCMP and municipal police officers and 4,000 private security guards would be under his command during the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver 24 Hours.

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