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Security experts braced for the mass of humanity that descended upon the nation’s capitol to witness inauguration history today. Estimates indicate that the thrill of seeing Barack Obama, the first African American sworn in as president likely draw some two million people.
But as with every inauguration, threatening chatter is out there and agents in the Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) joined some 60 other local, state and national agencies to keep the events culminating in today's 56th Presidential Inauguration safe and secure.
On Saturday, Washington Field Office agents held a demonstration of the bureau’s tactical response vehicles, which are part of the fleet available for deployment in support of the historical event. These vehicles, on standby for use in the event of a crisis, include a state-of-the-art mobile command post, an armored assault vehicle, WMD response vehicles, evidence recovery team vehicles, and bomb trucks.
Special Agent in Charge John Perren, Counterterrorism, Washington Field Office, provided journalists with an overview of the FBI’s role in assessing incidents and working with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to quickly and safely resolve them. The tactical vehicles provided the law enforcement agencies with on-the-scene response capabilities.
Special agents skilled in incident response, weapons of mass destruction, and bomb detection discussed their roles during the Inauguration at Saturday’s news conference.
The United States Secret Service is responsible for overall security of the event. The FBI takes the lead in working to prevent terrorist attacks and in gathering, analyzing, and sharing intelligence related to potential threats. Around the clock leading up to and during the Inauguration, FBI personnel will staff the Washington Field Office’s Command and Tactical Operations Center, as well as the Strategic Information Operations Center at FBI Headquarters.
The FBI also provided support to the United States Secret Service Joint Information Center. “We have hundreds of FBI agents, analysts, and other employees working side-by-side with hundreds of our law enforcement partners to make sure this is a safe event,” said Joseph Persichini, Assistant Director in Charge, Washington Field Office in a news release. “We work 24-hours-a-day with our partners to identify, investigate, and respond to any threats that might arise in the National Capital Region.”
The FBI’s response capability includes several pieces of specialty equipment demonstrated Sunday, as well as a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team, the Evidence Response Team, the Underwater Search and Evidence Response Team, the Hazardous Materials Response Team, Special Agent Bomb Technicians, and Crisis Negotiators.
In addition to some 700 Washington Field Office and FBI Headquarters employees, agents and other personnel from the FBI’s Philadelphia and Baltimore Field Offices supported the Pre-Inaugural activities that took place in Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore.