- The Washington Times - Friday, January 13, 2017

Between 700,000 and 900,000 spectators are expected to attend this year’s presidential inauguration to watch Donald Trump be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, an event expected to test security personnel and draw at least 63 different demonstration groups, according to federal law enforcement officials.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, providing a briefing Friday on security preparations, said authorities are not aware of any specific, credible threat targeting the Jan. 20 event in Washington, D.C., but that special precautions are being taken to prevent a repeat of the truck attacks launched last year in Nice, France, and Berlin, Germany.

Approximately 28,000 law enforcement officials will provide security at the inauguration and in events taking place in the surrounding days. At the inauguration, security perimeters will be heavily fortified with large trucks and other equipment to prevent any vehicles from crashing through barriers.

Authorities took similar precautions for events in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

While the estimated 1.8 million spectators who came to President Obama’s 2009 inauguration tested security plans as officials worked to deal with the massive crowds, officials said the shifting terror environment and new focus on self-radicalized and lone-wolf attackers bring with it new precautions for this year’s events.

“The hard perimeter areas this year in light of the current threat environment — which includes Nice and Germany — will be more heavily fortified against unauthorized vehicles by dump trucks, heavy trucks, trucks with cement, buses, and things of the like,” Mr. Johnson said Friday, providing a security update at the DHS-run Multi Agency Communications Center in Virginia, which will serve as a 24-hour security base during the inauguration events. “That is a precaution that we are doubling down in particular this inauguration.”

In addition to guarding against any form of terror attack, security will also work to ensure that demonstrations are peaceful and do not disrupt the event. Some anarchist groups have pledged to bring the president-elect’s inauguration parade to a halt.

While Mr. Johnson would not say what specific action security personnel are taking to prevent those disruptions, he said law enforcement agencies “have our ear to the ground, and we listen for and keep an eye on planned demonstrations.”

“Extra precautions are taken to ensure the actual official event cannot be disrupted or blocked,” Mr. Johnson said.

He stressed that constitutionally protected free speech and demonstrations will be allowed, noting authorities have identified 99 groups planning demonstrations through out the week — some events are protests and others are supportive of Mr. Trump.

“Demonstration groups, particularly those who apply for permits, will be [allowed] as long as they are nonviolent, allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights in the public areas including the areas that will be subject to bag checks. Along the parade routes, those who arrive early enough who go through the magnetometers will be allowed along the parade route,” Mr. Johnson said.

Authorities declined to provide an overall cost estimate for security.

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