NEWS

An Inauguration Like No Other

Matthew Harwood

The Washington, DC, area's law enforcement is bracing for an expanded inauguration day like no other, reports The Washington Post.

Because of the historic nature of the event, security officials have to prepare for a long weekend rather than just President-elect Barack Obama's parade and swearing-in ceremony on January 20.

"You've gone from a one-day event to a four-day event," Joseph Persichini Jr., head of the FBI's Washington Field Office, told the Post.

Here's what law enforcement will face from Saturday, January 17, until Barack Obama officially becomes President of the United States on Tuesday, January 20.

  • Security officials are preparing for crowds of up to 500,000 on the Mall for President-elect Obama's welcome ceremony on Saturday, January 17.
  • During the swearing-in ceremony, the U.S. Park Police will rely on "a massive security force, including 1,300 National Guardsman," to identify any security problems that arise as estimates forecast as many as 3 million people will crowd into the Mall for the event.
  • Screening on the Mall will not be done by checkpoints because of the crowd swells, but rather by police on horseback, undercover police officers, and video surveillance.
  • Strict screening will be enforced along the parade route and within all ticketed areas near the Capitol Building on Inauguration Day.
  • To help with mass communication, the DC government will install a $350,000 loudspeaker system along the parade route and around the Mall.
  • The Capitol Police will expand the securiter perimeter around the Capitol Building by a block or two.
  • Security around the District will rely on an enormous amount of extra law enforcement personnel:
    • DC Police will expand its police force by 100 percent, using all of its 4,000 police officers and borrowing 4,000 more from departments around the country.
    • The Metro Transit Police Department will utilize all of its officers as well and has put in requests for additional police officers from the transit police departments of Boston, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.
    • The U.S. military will provide 11,500 troops for Inauguration Day, 4,500 more than during President Bush's inauguration of 2005.
    • The Federal Protection Service, which protects government buildings, will expand its force by 30 percent from the last inauguration.
  • On top of the official events, security officials must also worry about the approximately 70 other concerts, balls, and other events during the long weekend.

A security effort like this also costs money, a lot of it. The District estimates it will spend $28 million on inauguration security—60 percent more than the previous inauguration. It is asking the federal government to increase the $15 million it has already allocated to the District for security costs. While its unclear how much the federal government is investing in Inauguration Day security, it has been designated a National Security Special Event, which means that the Secret Service, which is in charge of the event's security, can pull resources from wherever it needs to.

CORRECTION: The original article incorrectly stated President-elect Obama's welcome ceremony would occur on Saturday, January 20. The correct date is January 17.

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