- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

Federal and local law-enforcement agencies are coordinating efforts to provide security for former President Ronald Reagan’s memorial services in the District this week.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security yesterday designated this week’s memorial events as a national special security event, meaning security will be coordinated by the Secret Service.

But much of the security will come from the Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Capitol Police and the U.S. Park Police.

“It certainly is going to be one of the largest events that we have handled here,” Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said yesterday. “I think it would come pretty close to what we go through with a presidential inauguration in terms of heads of state, security issues and things of that nature.”

Chief Ramsey said about 20 dignitaries have confirmed they will attend so far, but that the actual number will likely be higher.

He said that while there hasn’t been much time to prepare for the event since President Reagan died Saturday, planning has been taking place for “some time now.”

Mr. Reagan’s body will arrive at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland at 5 p.m. Wednesday and be escorted into the District to 16th Street and Constitution Avenue NW by Metropolitan Police. The casket will be transferred to a horse-drawn caisson for an escort to the U.S. Capitol.

“My understanding is the public will be allowed to line Constitution Avenue on both sides,” Chief Ramsey said. “We have members of our department that will be lining the streets as well to maintain control of those crowds, but we expect to have quite a few people out to see this event.”

Chief Ramsey said that it was unlikely that secure checkpoints would screen visitors along the parade route.

“All the details around security have not been worked out,” he said. “It’s been discussed, but I don’t know. I’d be surprised if we did.”

He also said he was “not aware of anything that gives me any concern” about security “at this time.”

At the Capitol, where the former president will lie in state with an honor guard, a 24-hour public viewing will take place. Crowds of people expected to view the casket will have to pass through metal detectors, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer said. He also warned visitors that cameras, food and large backpacks would be prohibited.

“They will have to pass through a security network much like at the airport,” Chief Gainer said. “The fewer things you bring, the easier it will be to get into the Capitol.”

At 10:30 a.m. on Friday, a departure ceremony will take place at the Capitol and the former president’s remains will move by motorcade to the Washington National Cathedral.

Officers from the U.S. Park Police have been designated to escort dignitaries who will be arriving in the District by way of several military and commercial airports.

“We’ve canceled all of our leave for this week,” said U.S. Park Police Chief Dwight Pettiford.

“This could be one of the biggest spectator events ever held in the Washington metropolitan area,” Chief Pettiford said. He expressed some concern about the openness of the parade route, which will require numerous officers to secure.

Chief Ramsey said the precise route from the Capitol to the National Cathedral is still being worked out, but that his department will provide a motorcade.

“We will have a presence along that entire route,” he said.

At about 11:15 a.m., the former president’s remains will be received at Washington National Cathedral. A national funeral service will be conducted from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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