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Out-of-Town Deputies, Smaller Crowds Smooth Inauguration Security Efforts

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Crowd estimates for the inauguration Monday ranged from 600,000 to 800,000 people, smaller than the about 1.8 million who turned out in 2009.

The Secret Service, Capitol Police, National Park Service and Washington Metropolitan Police Department worked with more than 2,600 additional police officers from departments as far away as Oregon on Monday to pull off one of the largest and most significant crowd-control events that many of them will ever see: the inauguration ceremony of a U.S. president.

Such coordination, as well as a smaller turnout for this year’s ceremony compared with President Barack Obama’s first one in 2009, made the event less daunting, and the day went smoothly except for some minor crowd-control snafus for orange ticket holders and delays on the Metro system, which aren’t particularly unfamiliar for D.C.-area commuters.

“You got cowboy hats and motorcycle leather boots, and you got sheriffs’ departments and highway patrol,” MPD Chief Cathy Lanier said. “Part of the pride of having these officers here is having them wear their own department uniform.” The gig is an honor for out-of-town officers, most of whom are assigned to the parade route or inaugural balls.

The group was sworn in during a training session Sunday, not long after Obama took his own oath of office at the White House.

Cincinnati Police Officer Diondre Winstead said the work Monday wouldn’t be very different from his usual job, but the pressure is on.

“Now it’s just more important that we have the president of the United States to protect as well as the citizens of the Washington, D.C., area,” Winstead said.

Standing stiff in a sea of blue, gray, green and brown, officers swore to perform the duties of a special deputy United States marshal, meaning they can lawfully make arrests in the District.

MPD spokesman Araz Alali said that during the inauguration, the MPD made no arrests. He said a surplus of officers, including members of the National Guard, were a big help.

Minneapolis Police Sgt. Timothy Mattsson said Sunday that he expected smaller crowds to make the job much easier than four years ago.

“Once we’re stationed, it’s going to be fairly simple,” Mattsson said. “The barricades are in place; we’re just going to make sure nobody crosses.”

One group of police officers from Texas had never heard of the last inauguration’s infamous “Purple Tunnel of Doom,” where 1,000 ticketed attendees were stuck in the Third Street Tunnel and missed the ceremony.

Asked what they would tell the president if they saw him, Brazos County Deputy Sheriff Edward Frank said seriously: “We have a job to do.”

“If he comes to me, it’s ‘yes sir, no sir,” Brazos Deputy Sheriff Shane Moynihan added.

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