(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Secret Service joined their law enforcement partners in the Washington, D.C. area to speak about the upcoming security plans for next week’s 57th Presidential Inauguration. The Inauguration has been labeled a National Special Security Event which gives the U.S. Secret Service the overall lead for planning event security.
“At this time we have no credible corroborated threat information regarding any of the inaugural events,” said Debra Evans Smith, the Acting Assistant Director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano appeared with federal and local law enforcement officials at the Multi-Agency Communications Center (MACC), which will house 42 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to provide real time information to all agencies working event security. Located in the Washington suburbs, the MACC will house more than 100 agents and officers to share information about security and any ongoing incidents during the inauguration.
“Starting on Sunday it [the MACC] will operate continuously through the inaugural event over into Tuesday January 22. While the Secret Service takes the lead in the event. Because it is a National Special Security Event, protecting an event this large, this complex with this many different venues with this many people coming requires a lot of coordination and a lot of organization,” Napolitano said.
“We hope and plan for and anticipate a safe and secure inauguration and one that will be memorable and historic.” Napolitano said.
In addition to the MACC individual agencies such as the FBI, D.C. Police, U.S. Park Police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with the Secret Service will be operating their individual operations centers to respond to any security threats.
The 42 agencies involved in the security for the event will bring specialized units such as FBI and U.S. Park Police SWAT teams, sniper units from the Secret Service and FBI, WMD detection teams, Coast Guard patrols and dive teams to secure the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, as well as the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team on standby. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and The FBI’s National Capital Response Squad will be on standby at key locations in the city as well as bomb squads from the D.C. police and the ATF.
“Pretty much all of our specialty teams will be available if needed and on standby,” the FBI’s Smith told ABC News.
Officials at the MACC will be able to dial up D.C.’s extensive network of closed circuit TV cameras to pin-point areas of interest including the vast array of cameras on the National Mall and cameras that hang from most federal office buildings.
In the air, fighters from Northern Command will be on combat air patrols, while helicopters from U.S. Customs Border Protection and the U.S. Park Police will provide additional eyes in the sky. Much of the D.C. area’s airspace will be restricted, with the FAA declaring the it National Defense Airspace.
Days after Christmas, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration conducted low level flights over approximately 70 square miles of the Washington area to measure naturally occurring radiation in the area so that it could be compared to any unusual readings.
During President Obama’s first inauguration about 2 million people packed into Washington D.C. to watch the historic event. The crush of people in a city where the population is 617,000 people created a lot of problems, with many ticket holders not being able to get to their assigned areas. This included about 1,000 people trapped in the 3rd Street Tunnel in what became known as the Purple Tunnel of Doom, named after their color-coded tickets to allow them into the “purple zone” by the U.S. Capitol.
To address the issue this time around, U.S. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said the Inauguration Committee had formed a “crowd management committee” to plan for large crowds to ensure people have access to their ticketed locations. It is widely thought that the crowds this time around will be much smaller than in 2009 to boot.
Officials Tuesday said that there will be a lot more signage downtown in Washington, as well as a more robust social media presence to provide the public with information.
One useful tool for people attending or covering the inauguration will be text message updates from the U.S. Park Police. If people are seeking information on possible street closures or alerts on Inauguration Day people can text “inauguration” to 888777 to receive notifications and alerts from the Park Police.
“The planning has been intense but invigorating,” said U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers. “A lot of long days, early mornings, late nights, but it is a privilege to be a part of history.”
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