Security Plan Altered on the Fly

Posted January 20, 2009 at 10:53am

The high volume of pedestrian traffic prompted Metropolitan Police officials to close Independence Avenue Southwest earlier than planned, disrupting Capitol Police operations Tuesday morning.

According to an e-mail alert issued at 8:29 a.m. by the office of the House Sergeant-at-Arms, eastbound Independence Avenue closed ahead of schedule, and vehicles were directed to turn around.

“This is contrary to the Multi Agency plan that was agreed to,” the e-mail stated. “This development severely impacts the use of essential Congressional support placards. … We urge Members and staff to avoid this area and use alternate routes coming from the North on Massachusetts Ave or in the south along M Street.”

Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a Capitol Police spokeswoman, declined to discuss how the closure affected security operations, referring all questions to the Sergeant-at-Arms.

She also could not confirm whether Members or aides had been turned away because of the development, although alternate routes were outlined in the e-mail.

A spokeswoman for the Sergeant-at-Arms was not immediately available as formal inaugural events began at 11:30 a.m., and the Metropolitan Police Department declined comment, referring all inquiries to the Secret Service.

Emily Yehle contributed to this report.