- The Washington Times - Friday, July 5, 2002

Police officers on heightened alert for terrorist threats were out in force yesterday patrolling the streets and monitoring festivities around the Mall. But in the end, it was a typical Fourth of July for law-enforcement authorities.
U.S. Park Police arrested seven persons for minor violations, but the U.S. Capitol Police made no arrests, said Lt. Dan Nichols, a Capitol Police spokesman. D.C. police had no arrest figures available.
"I think all in all it went very well," Lt. Nichols said. "There were no arrests. It was very orderly."
Sgt. Scott Fear, a U.S. Park Police spokesman, said the biggest issue was the heat, with temperatures near 100 degrees.
"We had some heat-related illnesses," Sgt. Fear said. "We had 50 heat-related calls, and 18 people were transported to the hospital."
Police reported a minor incident early in the day when FBI officers arrested an illegal alien in the 600 block of Constitution Avenue. FBI officers said he was an Arab male who was wanted for unspecified crimes.
On the first Independence Day after the September 11 terrorist attacks, authorities were prepared for much worse. Police presence was heavy around the city, particularly on the Mall, where hundreds of thousands turned out for the holiday celebration.
With helicopters continuously flying overhead, celebrants were allowed onto the Mall through 24 checkpoints. Their personal items were to have been inspected for weapons, alcohol, firecrackers, grills, glass bottles and other dangerous items but security checks appeared to be inconsistent.
Those who were not carrying anything were waved through, but those with electronic equipment, such as cameras and cell phones, were scrutinized more closely.
Officers opened bags but often didn't search side pockets. At one checkpoint with more than a dozen officers, six or seven metal-detector wands sat, unused, on a table.
The National Park Service had put about 10 miles of wood-slatted snow fencing around the Mall to secure the area. Two fences, spaced 15 feet to 20 feet apart, were erected to prevent the transfer of harmful materials into the Mall.
About 2,500 police officers from various jurisdictions some in uniform and others in plainclothes were on patrol.
All 3,600 officers of the Metropolitan Police Department were made available for duty. About 1,000 typically work on the Fourth of July.
The D.C. police department and U.S. Park Police used their surveillance-camera systems to monitor activities on the Mall.
More than 20 officers from 18 law-enforcement and intelligence agencies including Interpol, the National Security Agency, FBI, Immigration and Naturalization Service and State Department watched the 32 monitors at the District's Joint Operations Command Center.
The facility, located on the fifth floor of D.C. police headquarters at 300 Indiana Ave. NW, had 13 cameras focused on the Capitol, Washington Monument, Independence and Constitution avenues and several other key areas of the Mall.
The cameras at the command center have been used several times this year to observe protests and demonstrations, including those in front of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in April.
Though no threat was visible yesterday, officers contended with plenty of distractions.
"The star balloons are going up. They are blocking the view," said one D.C. police intelligence officer watching the parade.
"Do we know exactly where that spot is?" shouted another.
A motorcycle accident was the only occurrence out of the ordinary, D.C. police said.
At 11:15 a.m., two motor patrol officers at Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue NW collided, said Officer Anthony O'Leary, a D.C. police spokesman. Neither officer was seriously injured, he said.
Police on the streets also were confident it would be business as usual.
"Other than the inevitable and unfortunate car break-ins, which will occur later tonight around the Mall, most likely nothing will happen," said Officer Kenneth V. Roden, a 27-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department.
Officer Roden, 49, said the biggest change since September 11 is the number of false alarms.
"People are so much more aware of things around them than they ever have been before," he said.
Officer Roden had to pick up two 15-year-old boys, apprehended on charges of car theft, from the U.S. Marshals lockup at D.C. Superior Court.
"Transport is routine duty," he said.
At 1:45 p.m., while Officer Roden was circling back to do another run through his patrol area, a call came in on his radio. It was a request to transport the illegal alien who had been picked up by the FBI to the INS building in Fairfax. Officer Roden said the man was not a terrorist suspect.
Jeff Barnes contributed to this report.


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