- The Washington Times - Monday, January 10, 2005

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams are expected today to outline some of the security measures being implemented in preparation for the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration.

The security measures will focus on a closed perimeter extending blocks beyond the traditional route President Bush will take after his swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol to the White House to view the inaugural parade.

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said thousands of officers, drawn from more than 60 police agencies, will be stationed on the route, screening spectators at checkpoints and mingling, undercover, with the crowds. Sharpshooters will be positioned on buildings, and bomb-sniffing dogs will patrol the secure area.

The police department’s Joint Operations Command Center will be activated, allowing local and federal authorities to monitor events from a network of fixed and mobile surveillance cameras throughout the city. Sensors will monitor air quality for traces of biological or chemical agents or radioactive material, and a no-fly zone across the District has been extended over the Baltimore-Washington area.

Democratic Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting representative in Congress, said Secret Service officials, who are coordinating security for the inaugural, briefed her on inaugural security plans last week.

“If you stand back and say, ‘What is the most different about this picture?’ What is really different is there are no cars,” Mrs. Norton said, noting that the security plan halts vehicle traffic through virtually all of the downtown core.

“I sympathize with their post-9/11 mission here. I believed going in as I believe going out that inaugurations are not about cars going in and out around the site,” Mrs. Norton said.

She said her concern was that pedestrian access to the city not be limited. Planners are expecting crowds in the hundreds of thousands to witness the swearing-in ceremony and the inaugural parade.

“The major objective is to keep the District open so that the thousands of visitors who will be in town for the parade and have nowhere else to go can patronize downtown.”

Metro will close the Archives-Navy Memorial station on the Yellow and Green lines and the Smithsonian station on the Blue Line from 5 a.m. until at least after the parade, but Mrs. Norton said she lobbied the Secret Service to keep Metro stations outside the secure perimeter open.

She said the expanded perimeter does not include many residential neighborhoods and that Secret Service officials have briefed building occupants and business owners inside the perimeter on what to expect.

Capitol Police spokesman Officer Michael Lauer said everyone entering the Capitol grounds to view the swearing-in ceremony will be screened at least once. Although cameras are allowed, he said, large camera bags or tripods, backpacks, large packages, thermoses and signs will be prohibited in addition to the typical bans against weapons.

City officials estimate the cost of the inauguration at about $17.3 million. The federal government appropriates $15 million each year to reimburse the city the cost of security for events such as the annual World Bank-International Monetary Fund meetings, but only about $5 million of that fund will be available for inauguration costs.

Chief Ramsey said it remains to be seen where the money for the inauguration will come from, but he is confident the District will be reimbursed.

“We’re keeping track of expenses,” he said.

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