Strict Security Measures In Place Across The Nation Ahead Of Inauguration Day

16 hours ago
Originally published on January 15, 2021 1:03 pm

Updated 4 p.m. ET

Law enforcement officials are bracing for possible serious security breaches and violent assaults ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's swearing-in next week. State and federal officials are taking no chances as the countdown begins for Inauguration Day.

The heightened security comes after a violent siege at the U.S. Capitol last week from pro-Trump extremists that resulted in the death of five people and forced lawmakers into hiding.

The FBI is seeing "an extensive amount of concerning online chatter...about a number of events surrounding the inauguration," according to the bureau's director Christopher Wray.

Some events have already been impacted by threats. A rehearsal for Biden's inauguration originally scheduled for Sunday has been postponed because of security concerns. Biden's team has also canceled an Amtrak trip from Wilmington to Washington set for Monday, according to multiple reports.

The FBI has warned state governments that the agency is tracking plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitols and in Washington, D.C., in the days leading up to Inauguration Day.

On-the-ground support

The U.S. Secret Service is the lead agency responsible for the inauguration security plan.

The National Guard Bureau announced Friday afternoon the Defense Department will deploy up to 25,000 service members in Washington. "Every state, territory and the District of Columbia will have National Guard men and women supporting the inauguration," the bureau said in a statement.

The Washington Post reports Lamont Ruffin, the chief deputy U.S. marshal for the District of Columbia, said his office is planning to deputize between 3,000 and 4,000 local law enforcement officers from across the country. Those officers will come into Washington to help with security at the request of the Metropolitan Police Department.

Washington, D.C. has implemented strict travel restrictions across the city for the inauguration.

Metro is closing 13 rail stations inside the security perimeter for the inauguration, with 11 stations closing on Friday and two additional stations closing on Saturday through next Thursday. Trains will bypass those closed stations without stopping.

"We are working closely with our regional and federal partners to keep the public safe during this National Special Security Event and to discourage travel within the secure zone," said General Manager Paul Wiedefeld.

Friday morning the National Park Service closed the National Mall to the public through at least Jan. 21, the day after Biden's inauguration. The Park Service has agreed to grant permits for First Amendment demonstrations at two locations on Pennsylvania Ave. Up to 100 people will be allowed to gather in each location after being screened through magnetometers and escorted by U.S. Park Police.

"We recognize that these are different times and require different measures," said Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks for the National Park Service, said at a Friday press conference with city and federal officials.

State capitals prepare

Statehouses nationwide also plan to batten down the hatches as the FBI reports increased threats of violent attacks to local governments as well.

  • The Missouri House of Representatives just this week approved new police powers for its security staff. Extra law enforcement officers were called to help at the Capitol building.
  • The Michigan Legislature canceled its sessions scheduled for next Tuesday through Thursday because of "credible threats" made against the state Capitol. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the object of a far-right kidnapping conspiracy last year, is deploying the National Guard.
  • The Oregon State Legislature, which was scheduled to begin its 2021 session Tuesday will delay until at least Friday, reports Oregon Public Broadcasting.
  • Utah Gov. Spencer Cox declared a state of emergency Friday through next Thursday because of potential protests at the state Capitol in Salt Lake City.
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced the state Capitol grounds in Frankfort would be closed Sunday and law enforcement including the National Guard would be prepared to ensure security.

FBI field offices in Portland, Ore., Louisiana, and Phoenix announced agents are working with local law enforcement to monitor for any threats in those areas.

Airports, airplanes make changes

The Transportation Security Administration remains on high alert following the events at the U.S. Capitol.

Airlines are also implementing new rules. Delta, American, Southwest, United and Alaska airlines announced this week that customers flying into any of the airports in the Washington, D.C., area will not be allowed to carry firearms in their checked baggage through the week of the inauguration.

American is also suspending all alcohol service on flights to and from D.C. from Jan. 16 to 21.

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