WASHINGTON — From strictly enforcing a “no-drone” zone backed up by threats of $32,140 fines to monitoring nearly 1 million spectators and protesters and what they are carrying, security for President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration is a daunting but well-calculated task.
Massive iron and concrete Jersey barriers were placed Thursday to block off streets beginning as early at 1 a.m. around the parade route between the Capitol and the White House. Interlocking 10-foot-tall fences will be erected farther out to channel pedestrians away from the secure area cordoned off by the U.S. Secret Service. The subway that extends into Virginia will be operated at full capacity, but some stops near the inauguration will be closed.
In all, nearly 30,000 people will to try to assure the peaceful transfer of power after the most divisive campaign in recent history. Among the security force will be about 5,000 police and National Guard troops from several states.
In front of the White House, an enclosed bulletproof viewing stand will allow the Trumps to be seen by supporters and 60 registered groups supporting and protesting the 45th president.
Federal authorities estimate 800,000 to 900,000 people will attend. The federal government estimates the security cost at $100 million.
“We’re constantly adapting, evolving and enhancing our protective methodology to protect against emerging threats,” said Brian Ebert, the Secret Service special agent in charge of the Washington field office. “We are monitoring our adversaries, paying close attention to their trends and tactics,” he told the Chicago Tribune.
That includes a growing list of prohibited items including selfie sticks, animals other than service dogs, backpacks and bags larger than 18 inches by 13 inches, bicycles, balloons, laser pointers, pepper spray and mace, signs larger than 20 inches by 3 feet, and any items “determined to be potential safety hazards.”
The Secret Service bans firearms and notes that carrying a concealed pistol will be prohibited even if the gun owner has a valid license in another state. But agents said they expect no greater threat with the inauguration of Trump than for past inaugurals. For example, President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration was much larger than any other, drawing 1.8 million people, double what is forecast for Trump.
“We know of no specific credible threat directed toward the inauguration,” Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told reporters last week. “We’ve got to be vigilant, we’ve got to plan, we’ve got to prepare.”
But world and domestic strife have a history of bolstering security at what could be a big target for violence.
“There was lots of security at Lincoln’s inaugurations in 1861 and 1865, but security really picked up after JFK’s assassination, and then again after 9/11,” said Jim Bendat, author of “Democracy’s Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President, 1789-2013.”