By James Copenhaver
Leave your aerosols, ammunition, backpacks, bicycles, balloons, drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, explosives, firearms, laser pointers, mace and pepper spray, packages, selfie sticks, toy guns and weapons of any kind back home.
From what I understand, more than 3,200 police officers and about 8,000 members of the National Guard are expected to help with basic crowd and traffic control around Washington D.C. during inaugural events, and get this, another 5,000 active duty service members will also be on hand to serve in ceremonial roles.
I can’t think of an inauguration that presented more security challenges than this one, given the many paid protesters and subsequent violence we’ve seen over the past 12 months.
The key part of the day is the amount of people who are expected to attend. For example, The “Women’s March on Washington,” the largest event requested, has been granted a permit for 200,000 people to rally and then march in protest of Trump on Jan. 21.
Police expect some 900,000 people to flood Washington for the inauguration ceremony, which includes a parade from the U.S. Capitol to the White House, along streets thronged with onlookers.
This will prove to be one of the most well planned security operations in U.S. history, with all of the attention centered around one person, The President Elect, Donald John Trump.
So, who do the Police protect? Everyone, even the rabble rousers, who of course will be subdued and detained if they get out of line.
The bigger question though it, how does LE protect and ensure the safety of the people attending this Historic event. Planning, Manpower and Intelligence.
Even before the final votes were tallied, numerous governmental agencies were already laying the groundwork for a safe transition of power, no matter who won.
You can rest easy that the groups of protestors will be held off by the many uniform and plain-clothes officers, which will be on the outer security perimeter in the District. If you are attending to participate in this historic event, you will be safe.
Without giving up security secrets, many layers of security will exist, starting with the Principle, Donald J. Trump, former Presidents and the key VIP’s, who will be on the stage. In addition to the Secret Service running point for POTUS, Trump’s private security team will also be in the mix.
That layer of security will be tight and very secure. I would also expect air support to include helicopters and several sniper teams posted on roof tops, looking for anything on the ground that looks out of place.
If you’re lucky enough to get a VIP seat or a seat in the Principle area, you have already been checked out by the U.S. Secret Service, potentially having been screened multiple times in the past few weeks.
The next layer of security will be in the general public viewing area, known as the “Mall”. This area will be well guarded with uniform and plain clothes officers, who will be looking for the first layer of trouble makers, who will be mixed and blended in with the folks trying to catch a good view of the President-elect.
The next layer will be the surrounding streets and sidewalks. If you know Washington, DC, you know this City is already on High Alert, with high barricades, fences, and roving Secret Service vehicles on daily patrols.
The outer perimeter will be very tight and secured with LE from several Police Agencies from the region. They will assist guiding in the spectators with barricades, much like we see in New York City for the mass amount of people gathering for the NYE ball drop.
You can expect long lines, and a lot of bag checks, if your entering the Mall area. I would also expect our fury K-9 friends to be in full force, but please resist distracting the service animals from doing their jobs.
For the most part, this should be par for the course and a smooth operation for security staff and attendees alike. As always, and in light of recent Radical Islamic terror attacks at home, the LE community will be on high alert for ISIS and other Islamic terrorists.
I hope and pray our intelligence communities have been hard at work, identifying chatter from the Radical Islamic Jihads, who also want to protest.
The problem with this group they certainly have a long history of protesting with guns, knives and explosives. So, if you see something… SAY SOMETHING.
Law enforcement would rather be aware of any and all problems or potential problems before they escalate to loss of life scenarios. The reason we are explaining what security will look like at the inauguration is so anyone attending can understand what they are seeing and what to expect.
Bundle up, enjoy our capitol, and be patient with men and women in law enforcement. We earned the right to Make America Great Again and we want to start off on the right foot on January 20th.
James Copenhaver is a former undercover police officer, member of the DEA and U.S. Marshall’s Joint Task Force. He is currently a regular commentator on security and terrorism issues and is one of Florida’s most sought after private investigators and security consultants.