Police officers heading to D.C.


As part of what is described as the largest security effort ever in the nation's capital, officers from local police departments from Seattle to Baltimore are set to go to Washington for the first inauguration since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Baltimore County is sending 52 members of its special-response team. Baltimore City is lending 50 officers, and Howard County is sending 40 from its civil-disturbance unit. Maryland state troopers, along with officers from five other Maryland counties, also are expected to help out in Washington next week.

The District of Columbia has told the local agencies that they will be reimbursed for their costs. The district is in a dispute with the federal government over who should pay how much of the inauguration costs.

For the 2001 inauguration, fewer than a dozen police departments sent officers to Washington, according to District of Columbia police. This year, more than 70 police agencies will send officers to help control crowds and provide security at events Thursday, which include a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, the swearing-in and nine inaugural balls.

"This is the largest national police mobilization ever," Capt. Jeff Herold of the district's Metropolitan Police Department said last week. "We've never seen anything like this. No one in the country has done anything of this magnitude for an event before."

More than 2,000 officers from law-enforcement agencies throughout the country are expected to descend on Washington, creating a one-time security force of more than 10,000. Also to be deployed are the Secret Service, the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal agencies.

Authorities have described the security plans - featuring extensive use of electronic sensors to detect chemical and biological agents - as particularly intense, even for Washington.

"There's huge teamwork involved with federal, state and local agencies," said Sgt. Scott Fear of the U.S. Park Police. "The event is a celebration of democracy and freedom. We want people to feel safe and secure in an open atmosphere."

A training session will be held this week for out-of-town officers, and they will be sworn in as deputy U.S. marshals for Inauguration Day, Herold said.

Many of the visiting officers will assist along the parade route, said Sgt. Joseph C. Gentile, a Metropolitan Police Department spokesman. They also will ease the burden on the D.C. force, which has already canceled leave for its 3,800 officers, Gentile said.

D.C. police Chief Charles H. Ramsey invited police agencies across the country to participate in the inauguration events, Gentile said.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, police departments such as Baltimore County's are being dispatched with increasing frequency to Washington to help with security details for events that attract large crowds, such as the demonstrations at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings.

In addition to the 52 special-response team officers, Baltimore County police plan to send two police dogs with officers, according to a mutual-aid agreement that the Baltimore County Council is to vote on Tuesday.

It is the first time the agency has been asked to help with inauguration events, but the department has been asked four times to help with large events in the district, including the dedication of the National World War II Memorial, said Bill Toohey, a county police spokesman.

Howard County police also are participating in the inauguration for the first time. The department's civil disturbance unit of about 40 officers, clad in riot gear, will provide security along the parade route, and later, four members of the department's SWAT team will assist in providing security at one of several inaugural balls, said Capt. Greg Marshall, commander of the department's special-operations division.

"Obviously, you're a part of history when you do this," Marshall said.

The Montgomery County police, the Prince George's County police and sheriff's department, and the sheriff's departments in Wicomico and Worcester counties also are on the list to send members to Washington next week. Anne Arundel County police said they also are prepared to send officers.

Overtime for the out-of-town officers is projected to cost nearly $2.6 million. Transporting, lodging and feeding those officers likely will cost another $2.4 million, according to district officials.

More than $75,000 has been budgeted for boxed lunches, water and granola bars.

The inauguration is expected to cost the district about $17.3 million - most of it for security, district officials say.

Sharon Gang, a spokeswoman for D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, said district officials hope the federal government will reimburse the city for the inauguration expenses so that the city won't have to use the money already allocated for homeland security training and practice drills.

Members of Congress from Maryland and Washington sent a letter to the president Thursday, asking that inauguration expenses be paid by the federal government without forcing the district to dip into homeland security funds.

"It is unreasonable and unfair to expect the people of the District of Columbia to carry this extraordinary burden alone," they wrote. "The cost of providing security has risen dramatically for this first inauguration since Sept. 11, 2001."

Sun staff writers Anica Butler, Ryan Davis and Phillip McGowan contributed to this article.

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