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765 Held in Sweep to Lower Crime Threat at Olympics

<i> From Associated Press</i>

In a sweep coordinated by federal marshals, officers from 23 law enforcement agencies made 765 arrests over the past 10 weeks to reduce the crime threat to Summer Olympics visitors, authorities said Thursday.

The sweep, dubbed “Operation Olympus,” resulted in 428 arrests in the Atlanta area, 241 in Macon and Columbus, Ga., and 96 in Birmingham, Ala.

Because some of the suspects face multiple charges, the arrests cleared up 985 outstanding warrants, federal authorities said.

“Olympus targeted career criminals,” said Robert McMichael, U.S. marshal in Atlanta. “Criminals with a history of crimes against persons were the main object.”

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With about 2 million visitors expected for the Olympics, security has been a long-standing concern. Until now, attention has centered mostly on preventing terrorism rather than street crime.

Such multi-agency sweeps are not unusual, but this one was larger than most.

“The message is, people should feel good about coming to Atlanta,” said U.S. Atty. Kent Alexander. “People who could do harm during the Olympics are now off the streets.”

Authorities hedged on how much of a bite the crackdown actually would take out of the Olympic crime threat.

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“A known recidivist violent offender doesn’t have time to work a legitimate job--they’re going to have to commit crimes for survival,” said Cobb County Sheriff Bill Hutson. “So we can make an assumption that by taking them off the street, we will reduce crime. But I can’t give you numbers.”

Authorities acknowledged that some of those arrested could be freed on bond before the July 19 opening ceremony, but McMichael said it probably would be difficult for repeat offenders and probation violators to gain such freedom.


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