- DC residents and businesses are concerned that law enforcement will be focused on inauguration without sufficient availability to respond to areas outside of the red zones.
- The Metropolitan Police Department will be fully active leading up to and on inauguration day, backed by members of the National Guard and other law enforcement officials.
- People will go through screening in order to enter established red zones, they will not be allowed to bring bicycles into the area.
Residents of Washington, D.C. expressed their concerns about how officials will secure neighborhoods and businesses leading up to the inauguration on Jan. 20.
Community members said they are worried about how officials will secure neighborhoods, businesses and places of worship during activity surrounding the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, speaking in a call hosted by the Executive Office of the D.C. Mayor featuring Director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency Christopher Rodriguez and Acting Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee on Friday evening.
“I think it’s important for the public to know that this security event, the overall responsibility of it falls on the shoulders of the secret service, but the MPD is very much a close ally in terms of making those things happen that need to happen to ensure that we have safe communities here in the district,” Contee said.
“We’ll have a full activation of our department, we’re requesting resources, law enforcement agencies are confirmed to come in from all over the country to support this effort in addition to that we’ll have the support of guardsmen” from around the U.S., Contee added.
The head of the Secret Service’s DC office says agencies “are following credible threats of violence in neighborhoods around the city,” and DC police chief says “residents who live near the Capitol may need to show ID to the National Guard to be allowed into their neighborhood” https://t.co/hA01QSZxKu
— Chris (@chrstphr_woody) January 15, 2021
In order to access a red zone perimeter, people will be screened by magnetometers and physical bag checks, according to Contee. Bicycles will not be permitted and the roads within red zones will be closed to traffic.
A resident named Diane from Ward 1 expressed concerns about “potentially dangerous” demonstrators leaving the security perimeter and entering neighborhoods. Contee said that the MPD is “at full activation, 12-hour shifts, to make sure we have coverage around the clock and obviously all of our resources are not dedicated to the downtown zone.”
A woman from Ward 3 expressed concern about activity around Comet Ping Pong, a pizza place associated with the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory that led to a shooting in 2016 in which no injuries were reported, according to NPR. Contee said that there is no known activity planned for Comet pizza, though people should always be aware of their surroundings and on the lookout for anything suspicious.
“I am taking my authority to deputize every member of the community to be on the lookout. See something? Say something. Let us know. Let us check it out,” Contee said. (RELATED: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser Asks Trump And Several Federal Agencies To Help Prepare For Biden Inauguration)
Julie, from Ward 2, asked if the MPD would be conducting sweeps throughout the city leading up to inauguration day after people “set off explosives on the median” near her residence, she suspected to “scare” them for displaying a Biden-Harris sign or to test police response times. Contee reminded callers of the two pipe bombs found near the Capitol on Jan. 6 and reassured her that the department could handle it, though people could still light “cherry bombs or firecrackers.”
Angela, from Ward 1, asked whether places of worship will be given additional protections after rioters targeted a historic church in December. The MPD has asked religious institutions to make sure that their security cameras are fully operational in case the department needs to investigate an incident, according to Contee.
Contee said he told the general manager of the Capitol Hilton that he recommends getting in touch with the Secret Service to make plans for expected deliveries prior to inauguration day. The Mandarin hotel reported issues of MPD stopping their employees at checkpoints who had letters of authorization detailing their work, according to their director of security
Colby McCoy contributed to this report.
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