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This photo from four years ago shows the types of barricades likely to be installed in Washington as part of preparations for the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 1/17/2013
WASHINGTON--Tea party fervor has surged and waned in the past four years, Occupy encampments are long gone from parks in the nation's capital, and the crowd for President Barack Obama's second inauguration figures to be significantly smaller than the record-breaking turnout of 2009.
But spectators can still expect the customary tight security long associated with the event--not to mention protesters advocating assorted causes.
City and federal officials are implementing measures intended to prevent calamities, such as a terrorist attack, and to address more mundane concerns, like slow-moving security lines and cold weather. Flight restrictions are in place in the skies over Washington, with extra security on the city's waterways. Spectators will be limited in where they may drive and what they can bring.
The Secret Service, the lead law enforcement agency for the Jan. 21 event, isn't revealing specific precautions, though tactics in the past have included trained sharpshooters, bomb-sniffing dogs, air patrols and surveillance cameras with feeds streaming into a command center.
"We have a very robust, but standard, package that we put together for something like this. There is not any tool that any of the agencies have that will not be employed," said U.S. Senate Sergeant At Arms Terrance Gainer, who is involved in the planning.
Inauguration preparation is a constant balancing act of ensuring airtight security while simultaneously moving massive crowds around the city.
Officials say they're determined to correct some of the logistical headaches of 2009, when some visitors complained of slow-moving, chaotic lines outside security gates and thousands of people with tickets to the swearing-in were left waiting in a tunnel below the National Mall. This year, organizers say, spectators will encounter more magnetometers to speed security lines, along with more--and earlier--signs to get people to their destinations.
"Our biggest concern is making sure that folks can get from wherever their buses are to the events they want to see, and back," said Chris Geldart, director of the District of Columbia's homeland security and emergency management agency.
City officials are expecting between 600,000 to 800,000 inauguration spectators, far fewer than the 1.8 million people who packed the Mall for the inauguration four years ago. But the security measures will look familiar.