- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 25, 2004

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and specialists will patrol the Mall, monitor radar and provide air security during the Memorial Day dedication this weekend of the National World War II Memorial, federal officials said yesterday.

“We expect a lot of people, not a lot of protesters, but we are prepared to do whatever is necessary to assist in protecting the event and the nation,” said Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Michael J. Garcia, who leads Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE agents will assist U.S. Park Police and Metropolitan Police in securing the area around the Mall this weekend.

During a press briefing yesterday, Mr. Garcia and Wendell C. Shingler, director of Federal Protective Services (FPS), an ICE agency, said ICE’s Office of Air and Marine Operations will work with other law-enforcement agencies during the weekend to secure the “critical, restricted airspace” over the Mall.

They said ICE radar-detection specialists at the National Capital Region Coordination Center — as they do 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the D.C. area — will work with ICE air crews flying Black Hawk helicopters and Cessna Citation interceptor jets out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to secure the airspace over the dedication ceremonies and the adjoining area.

Mr. Shingler also said that FPS agents will assist Park Police officers by providing uniformed officers for crowd control and explosives-detecting dogs and their handlers.

“We are the first law-enforcement agency with the cutting-edge advantage of having officers trained in both law enforcement and the handling of hazardous materials,” Mr. Shingler said. “That gives us the ability to not only be the first responders in the maintenance of any potential crime scene, but the ability to identify and handle potential weapons of mass destruction or other hazardous materials.”

Mr. Garcia and Mr. Shingler said that although no hazardous-material threat had been reported, ICE agents could respond immediately to such a possibility.

More than 120,000 visitors — including former Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton — are expected to attend the formal dedication Saturday of the National World War II Memorial, a $175 million monument to honor members of the World War II generation. Sitting about 6 feet below street level, the memorial includes a waterfall and is surrounded by 56 pillars that represent wartime U.S. states, territories and the District.

The National Park Service has said that it expects about 200,000 visitors on each day of the three-day holiday weekend.

Numerous streets will be closed around the Mall area and Metro schedules will be altered.

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