- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2005

Law-enforcement agencies say people who would like to attend today’s inaugural festivities should not be intimidated by heightened security, but they should be aware of the stepped-up protective measures so they are not turned away.

“We encourage people and we want people to participate, but we want them to be aware to bring lots of patience,” said Sgt. Contricia Sellers-Ford, spokeswoman for the U.S. Capitol Police.

Capitol Police are tasked with providing security on the Capitol grounds, where President Bush will be sworn in and deliver his second inaugural address.

Even though spectators are required to have obtained tickets in advance for the ceremony, Sgt. Sellers-Ford said they should be sure not to carry any prohibited items and to arrive as early as possible, because officers will have a limited amount of time to screen and seat everyone.

Prohibited items include weapons, thermoses, backpacks and most bags. Screeners will open entry points at 8 a.m. and close them at noon.

Police said ticket holders with blue or green inaugural tickets should take Metro to the Union Station or Judiciary Square stations. Persons with red or yellow tickets should take Metro to the Capitol South or Federal Center stations.

Officer Kenneth Bryson, a Metropolitan Police Department spokesman, encouraged people attending the inaugural parade to take Metro and arrive early.

Ten checkpoints for entering the secured perimeter around the parade route and two checkpoints leading to viewing points on the Mall for the swearing-in ceremony will open at 9 a.m. Each checkpoint will have several lines manned by federal and local law-enforcement officers, who will use metal detectors to screen spectators.

“We hope that people will attend, whatever their interests may be,” Officer Bryson said, referring to protesters who have complained that inaugural organizers have limited their access to the parade route.

Signs or posters are banned from the swearing-in ceremony, but will be permitted along the parade route. However, a U.S. District Court judge yesterday upheld a ban on sign poles or sticks.

The protest group Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) challenged the ban, but U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman said Tuesday that the restrictions are reasonable.

The group also argued that the National Park Service illegally blocked protesters and the general public from access to vast portions of Pennsylvania Avenue that have been reserved solely for ticketed guests approved by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Judge Friedman also dismissed that claim.

“It’s clear the plaintiffs did not get the space they wanted, but they did get nine designated areas,” he said.

One of the areas, at Pennsylvania Avenue and Fourth Street NW, is the only site with an unobstructed view of the parade route granted to protesters.

Security at Metro stations will be enhanced, with nearly two dozen Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers and bomb-sniffing dogs from airports in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee and St. Louis teaming up with Metro Transit Police to secure the subway system.

Fifteen TSA airport screeners brought in special equipment to scan items. The equipment can identify items as being harmless before any stations would have to be closed for a broader security sweep, said Metro Transit Police Chief Polly Hanson.

“Obviously, we’ll have a tremendous response to suspicious packages and unattended items,” Chief Hanson said.

Metro also will have 10 FBI bomb technicians on hand.

“One of the things we recommend to our passengers is: ‘Don’t bring it, if you can’t put it in your pocket,’” Chief Hanson said.

Metro will close the Archives-Navy Memorial and Smithsonian stations, which are inside the secure perimeter. The stations will remain closed until after the parade.

A third station, the Mount Vernon Square-Convention Center stop, also will be closed today.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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