- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2003

Police agencies have canceled days off, extended work shifts and dispatched officers to power plants, bridges and other critical spots as part of a homeland-security operation that escalated when the United States began its military campaign in Iraq.
The Metropolitan Police Department has switched to 12-hour work shifts, restricted leave and canceled one day off per week for its 3,600 officers.
Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey has grouped officers into "civil-disturbance units" to patrol the city in unmarked vans and on scooters and bicycles. The units will focus on bridges, water-treatment plants and other sites where terrorists might retaliate. They also will guard against anti-war protesters. One group of protesters, United for Peace, stated intentions on its Web site to "stop business as usual in the capital."
"Right now, we're doing all we feel we need to under the present situation, based on the information we have," Chief Ramsey said, adding that the District is the "safest place in America."
As of yesterday afternoon, no specific terror threats had been made against the District, and the majority of overtime officers will be patrolling neighborhoods, he said.
The D.C. police made the changes two days after the Department of Homeland Security raised the terror threat to Code Orange indicating a "high" alert.
D.C. police have also activated the Joint Operations Command center and 14 video-surveillance cameras.
Chief Ramsey said the deployment will last at least a week before being re-evaluated.
"By then, we should have our finger on the pulse pretty well in terms of information coming in, the actual actions of protesters, the actual threats maybe toward particular locations," he said.
Margret Nedelkoff Kellems, the District's deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said the National Guard has so far not been asked to provide troops for handling protests or security.
Meanwhile, other police agencies in the District are also deploying more officers and focusing on potential terrorist targets.
U.S. Capitol Police said more officers will patrol the Capitol, the House and Senate office buildings and the Library of Congress.
U.S. Park Police Sgt. Scott Fear said officers have been working five-day, 12-hour shifts since Monday and plan to keep major monuments and most parks open to the public.
Sgt. Fear said Lafayette Park, in front of the White House, was reopened yesterday after 29 persons were arrested Wednesday during a demonstration.
"If we get a lot of demonstrators, more than 25, we ask them to leave the park and we close it," he said.
A permit is required for demonstrations involving more than 25 persons, and such permits are not being issued for security reasons. Sgt. Fear said demonstrations yesterday were "orderly" and no arrests were made.
Metro Transit Police Chief Polly Hanson said canine units are checking stations, and some officers are carrying automatic weapons.
Security measures were increased at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear-power plant on the Chesapeake Bay in Lusby, and police at Baltimore-Washington International Airport searched cars for a third day.
In Maryland, traffic on Interstate 95 into Baltimore was slowed yesterday morning because Maryland Transportation Authority officers were stopping and searching trucks weighing more than 5 tons. Authorities said nothing unusual was found.
In Virginia, state police have increased patrols and security around critical facilities, including nuclear-power plants in Louisa and Surry counties.
The Department of Emergency Management has augmented staffing and the Department of Transportation is monitoring roadways and key transportation assets to identify suspicious activity.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide