Law enforcement prepares for July 4 events on National Mall

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people from around D.C., the U.S. and the world will celebrate the nation’s birthday in the nation’s capital.

Mike Litterst, with the National Park Service, said that means a lot of planning goes into keeping things safe.

“Security for any event on the National Mall, especially for the Fourth of July, is of tantamount — not only interest, but importance — to the National Park Service and the U.S. Park Police,” Litterst said.

On the Fourth, federal and local law enforcement in the area will have their hands full monitoring the Independence Day parade in the morning, the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival during the afternoon and A Capitol Fourth show in the evening — which will conclude with a fireworks display on the Mall.

Litterst said details of the security plan will not be released, but it is ready to be put into place on the holiday. The planning includes strategies for preventing and responding to many scenarios.

“Vehicle attacks are an increasing potential risk for large events with a lot of people,” Litterst said.

He continued: “We are aware of that threat and we have a robust plan in place to address those threats.”

As of Thursday afternoon, Litterst said, there are no credible threats against National Mall events on July 4, but law enforcement will continue to monitor the situation.

Fences will go up around the National Mall the night before the celebration, and anyone looking make it onto the Mall must pass through security checkpoints.

“Our visitors play a key role in helping us with the security and safety of the event,” Litterst said.

Finally, Litterst said, the adage, “if you see something, say something,” applies for this event.

Litterst said families should establish a location for members to meet in case anyone gets lost. The National Park Service also recommends that anyone with small children take a group picture early in the day. The image can be used to help visitors and police find any children who become lost.

Visitors to the Mall can also sign up to receive text messages from officials regarding the event by texting JULY4DC TO 888-777.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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