WASHINGTON — Thousands of police officers will be traveling to the nation’s capital next week to help provide security and maintain order amid the massive crowds expected for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
“Managing an event of this caliber requires a vast amount of resources,” said D.C. Homeland Security Director Chris Geldart. “In addition to the Metropolitan Police Department, law enforcement personnel from around the country will be assisting.”
The District is bringing in 3,000 extra police officers along with 5,000 members of the National Guard.
Additionally, there will be extensive road closures and vehicle restrictions within a perimeter that stretches from east of the U.S. Capitol to west of the Washington Monument. Closures begin next week Thursday, while parking restrictions will start one day before that.
“Hundreds of thousands of people will visit the District to participate in this event, so we encourage everyone to begin planning now,” Geldart said.
“We want folks to be taking mass transit,” added D.C. Council member Charles Allen who chairs the council’s public safety committee. “We strongly discourage anyone from driving downtown. It’s just not going to happen.”
The inauguration is designated a “national special security event.” They are events that are deemed to be a potential target for terrorism or other criminal activity and the U.S. Secret Service is put in charge of event security.
Brian Ebert, special agent in charge of the Secret Service Washington field office told WTOP the agency uses a 360-degree “protective methodology.” He added, “We’re paying attention to the physical, the cyber, the aerial.”
Ebert said the Secret Service will use a “robust security perimeter to defend against a number of threats. This will be a multilayered, buffer zone surrounding protected venues as well motorcade routes and of course the parade route.”
Under the special security event planning, the FBI handles intelligence, counterterrorism, hostage rescue and investigation of incidents of terrorism or other major criminal activities.
D.C. officials have released a general information map illustrating such locations as taxi stands, warming sites and medical aid stations.
Security for the women’s march
The massive march planned for the day after the inauguration, the Women’s March on Washington, is not officially part of the inaugural activities so the thousands of extra officers and National Guard members will not be used for the event.
“The Metropolitan Police Department will keep their forces in place,” Geldart said.
It is not clear how many people may attend, but there are indications the crowds could be quite large. On the rally’s Facebook page, more than 180,000 say they plan to be there. More than 250,000 others say they are interested in going.
Geldart said D.C. is planning for up to 500,000 people but there will be additional “contingents in case it grows larger than that.”
People are expected to gather for the march starting at 10 a.m. Jan. 21 near the Capitol, at Independence Avenue and Third Street.
“Security is a top priority,” organizers said on the event’s website. “All proper security measures have been discussed and put in place in coordination with the police and other city agencies.”
What to know if you live or work in the red zone.
The D.C. Police Department said work will begin to set up the red zone’s perimeter on Thursday, Jan. 19, at 3 a.m. Barriers and fences are among the methods that will be put in place, when the work begins at 3rd Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue.
As the zone is cordoned off, drivers can expect the area to become more and more difficult to navigate. Commander Jeffrey Carrol with D.C. Police said people parked in parking garages within the Red Zone should also plan ahead.
“Those locations inside that red zone, there will be concrete dropped in front of those parking garages or they will also be made inaccessible,” Carrol said.
When the barriers go in front of garages in the red zone, cars will be stuck inside them until the barriers are removed after the inauguration.
Work will be done at a rate of a block per hour and could bring early road closures in the red zone area, with the red zone completely shut off from traffic at 3 a.m. on Friday.