Hill Security Staffs Up for 9/11 Anniversary
Heightened security measures that will be in place on Capitol Hill for President Barack Obama’s 7 p.m. speech won’t entirely subside after he concludes the address.
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches on Sunday, agencies charged with guarding the nation’s capital will maintain an increased presence.
There is no imminent threat to the country, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said last week, but the department will be on guard.
“While there is no specific or credible intelligence that al-Qa’ida or its affiliates are plotting attacks in the United States to coincide with the ten year anniversary of 9/11, we remain at a heightened state of vigilance and security measures are in place to detect and prevent plots against the United States should they emerge,” Napolitano said in a statement.
The Capitol Police will likely deploy more units, including uniformed and undercover patrol officers, police cruisers and specialty units, such as canine officers, the bomb squad, hazardous materials units and SWAT teams, department spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said.
“With the 10-year anniversary of September 11 approaching, USCP continues to present a visible deterrent to our adversaries and detect those who may present a threat,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “People on the Capitol grounds or in the area of the U.S. Capitol may notice a more visible presence in addition to the multiple layers of security that are not visible to the public.”
The Metropolitan Police Department will coordinate with Capitol Police, MPD Chief Cathy Lanier said Wednesday. The department’s preparations are 10 years in the making, she said.
“If someone is planning to do harm, our goal is to look for things outside of the Capitol complex itself. What may we see that may indicate that somebody is planning something or doing something that may lead to an issue on Capitol Hill?” she asked at a news conference.
The Metro Transit Police will deploy extra patrol officers and canine units across the system, though there is no specific or credible threat against the rail system, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said Wednesday.
The high-visibility exercise is “meant to let folks know that we are out there and we are watching,” he said.
“We continue to operate with a heightened state of vigilance for the anniversary week, as we have for months leading up to the anniversary,” he said.
Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie declined to comment on any specific procedures, but he said the agency will be vigilant as always.
“We give the utmost protection to all of our protectees each and every day,” he said Wednesday. “We always work at the highest level possible for all of our protectees.”
There will also be road closures around the Capitol during today’s rush hour because of Obama’s speech.
Capitol Square will also be closed to unauthorized pedestrians at 4 p.m., and the streets will be blocked off an hour later. They will reopen after the speech.
In an attempt to reduce traffic in the area, Capitol Police will close the Capitol Visitor Center to tours and reroute tour buses at 11 a.m.