As the eyes of the world focus on President Obama’s second inauguration in Washington today, the eyes of the Secret Service will be on crowds, rooftops, streets and airports.
Indeed, security for the inauguration is tighter than ever before for the open-space event – which includes a parade – attended by hundreds of thousands of onlookers.
According to the Secret Service’s website, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security designated the inaugural as a National Special Security Event (NSSE). When an event is designated an NSSE, the Secret Service becomes the lead federal agency for the design and implementation of the operational security plan.
That means the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Capitol Police and the U.S. Park Police – as well as a number of other local, state and federal agencies – “will play a critical operational role in securing the Inauguration and resources will be deployed to maintain the appropriate level of security.”
According to The Boston Globe, there are 42 government agencies involved, with more than 2,000 police officers from 86 different jurisdictions from across the U.S.
This high level of security also means a wide variety of mobility restrictions for cars and pedestrians, many of which were put in place on Sunday. And for those people who planned on walking around The National Mall during inauguration day, they’ll have to abide by a long list of “don’t bring” items, including:
◦ Animals other than helper/guide dogs
◦ Bags and signs exceeding size restrictions (8″x6″x4″)
◦ Glass or thermal containers
◦ Laser pointers
◦ Mace / Pepper spray
◦ Supports for signs and placards
◦ Weapons of any kind
◦ Any other items determined to be potential safety hazards
The security sweep also extends to food.
According to The Washington Post, officials swooped in over the weekend to inspect the city’s fleet of food trucks for all manner of hazards, including — but not limited to — food-borne illnesses.
“Our process plays a vital role in national security,” said Robert Sudler, program manager of the D.C. Health Department’s food safety division, who was supervising the inspections. “Citizens and visitors could be exposed to any number of fatal threats.”
Yet for all the restrictions, security officials stressed that personal freedom was one of their overriding objectives.
“The main focus is to make sure that people enjoy the event without feeling the security is overbearing,’’ D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier was quoted as saying last Tuesday as her team got ready for the inauguration.
For those keen on social media, the Twitter handle @obamainauguration had more than 46,000 followers in the minutes leading up to show time.
So, you have to know that the Secret Service’s eyes are online as much as on the crowds.
And you have to know that they’ll be very happy when the big day is over.