BUFFALO, NY - With just over a week to go before the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, a local expert on security is continuing to express concern over safety and threats of trouble.
Russia is mounting a massive security operation for the Olympics, deploying more than 50,000 police and soldiers amid threats of attacks.
On Wednesday, the chief organizer of the games described the city where the games are being held as "the most secure venue on the planet".
That is still not enough to allay the concerns of Steven MacMartin, who is the director of the Homeland Security bachelor's degree program at Medaille College, who has held those concerns for some time.
"Someone once asked me the question of whether they made a mistake planning the Olympics in Sochi to start with... and I believe there was. I don't know I how people couldn't have looked and said the situation is going to be a problem," said MacMartin, who retired after 32 years as a U.S Homeland Security agent in 2011.
MacMartin told WGRZ-TV that it is not as if the Russians aren't particularly efficient when it comes to homeland security.
"If you look at it historically, the Russians are very good at homeland security…but they may not be so good at dealing with terrorism," he said, adding his belief that the region where the Olympics are being held is fertile ground for such activity.
"That area of Russia is under such political flux, and they're having such a problem with the revolutionary movement there that it provides a nightmare of security problems for them."
MacMartin believes the athletes themselves and the venues where they will compete will be relatively secure.
"Their problem is going to be with their lack of control as you get farther and farther away from that event, in areas where people are transiting and staying outside of the Olympics," he said.
When asked, if he had a relative competing in the games, whether he would go, he replied, "I don't know that I'd go. It depends if there would be another time, or if this would be the one chance they would have to compete."
However, MacMartin also noted that his response to that question is based on being fairly confident that he could provide for his own security given that he had decades of experience in law enforcement.
As for others who might not have those credentials, he said, "It's a tough call….but my advice would be to think long and hard about not going…I think there's going to be problems over there."
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