Total security costs could top $100 million
About 28,000 personnel from dozens of agencies and departments on duty
The full force of the US domestic security apparatus will be deployed to stand guard as President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office Friday, with an estimated 900,000 people expected to gather in Washington for the inauguration and related activities.
More than 100 square blocks – about 2.7 square miles – will be closed to automobile traffic as federal, state and local authorities create a protective bubble around the swearing-in ceremony, presidential festivities and opposition protests. The final tab is expected to surpass $100 million.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said last week at a briefing from a suburban command and control center that an estimated 28,000 in personnel from the US Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration, FBI, US Park Police, US Capitol Police, Coast Guard and local police from Washington and around the nation would be fanned out across the city to provide multiple layers – and dimensions – of security.
Lone wolf threat is DHS focus as 99 groups plan pro- and anti-Trump rallies
Despite the absence of a “specific, credible threat,” Johnson told reporters the primary focus would be on “individual acts of violent extremism and those who self-radicalize,” as have been seen in recent attacks in France and Germany. Dump trucks and buses will be placed in strategic locations to block off large gatherings of pedestrians.
Johnson also estimated that a total of 99 both pro- and anti-Trump groups – their plans gleaned via permit applications and social media surveillance – would launch demonstrations over a period beginning Friday and carrying on through Saturday evening.
The Women’s March on Washington, which is drawing a vast coalition of anti-Trump groups, could draw upwards of 200,000 people on Saturday. Unseasonably warm temperatures are being forecast – 51 degrees with evening showers on Friday and a high of 61 degrees on Saturday – and should help groups reach their more optimistic turnout estimates.
What you can’t bring – from guns to drums
Ticketholders for the inaugural ceremony, which will take place at the foot of the Capitol, can enter through six public security checkpoints flanking the National Mall and Reflecting Pool. Restrictions there will be even more exacting, with officials publishing a list of no fewer than 40 banned items, including everything from firearms and fireworks to backpacks, balloons, drums, whistles and selfie sticks.
One thing police will not be prioritizing, according to Washington Mayor Mayor Muriel Bowser, are the 4,200 free joints being handed out by a marijuana activist group. The district legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2015. Possession of up to two ounces is permitted, as is growing and giving it away for free. DCMJ will begin its green handout on Friday morning and is calling on demonstrators to light up – which, in public, is not legal – four minutes and twenty seconds into Trump’s speech.
The city is on the hook for $30 million in spending, the mayor said at a recent press conference, with $19 million expected to be reimbursed directly by Congress. A portion of the $90 million the inaugural committee said it raised in the run-up will also go to cover security costs.
Flight and rail restrictions speed up as ceremonies near
Airspace restrictions over the capital will also be tightened over the coming days. The Federal Aviation Administration will modify its typical parameters and limit local airport procedures from 1:30 p.m. ET to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and for three hours, from 9 a.m. to noon, on Saturday.
Among the items banned from the inaugural secure zones are small drone devices. Johnson said security officials will be keeping close tabs on the remote control flyers, which can elude radar and twice breached the White House perimeter in 2015.
“It is something we have planned for, and there is technology to deal with it,” Johnson said.
Anticipating a flood of visitors, Amtrak too will ramp up rail security efforts with enhanced patrols and additional K-9 units monitoring passengers and their carry-on and checked baggage.