Washington: With an estimated two million people likely to attend the historic inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, authorities here are facing a logistical challenge to put in place fool-proof security arrangements for the January 20 event.
Unprecedented security is being put in place in the US capital as it gears up for the inauguration of its first black President, with police in riot gear and military troops patrolling the streets.
Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, aided by 96 departments nationwide, will double its force from 4,000 to 8,000 officers for the inauguration - 1,000 more than were on hand in 2004. The city has blocked off 3.5 square miles downtown for Inauguration Day, a larger area than in the past, the MSNBC channel reported.
Police would also shut bridges across the Potomac River into Washington, along with a huge chunk of downtown DC.
A heavily armored Cadillac limousine, bullet-resistant glass, fighter planes overhead and Secret Service SWAT teams toting automatic weapons are other highlights of the security preparedness for the swearing-in ceremony of US’ first African American President.
The Department of Homeland Security has designated the inauguration a ‘National Special Security Event´ as the mammoth size of crowds poses a logistical challenge to city planners and security agencies.
While bridges from Virginia into Washington would be closed to public traffic, more than 100 Virginia State Police officers will be in the capital.
“We always plan for the worst and hope for the best,” the news organisation quoted Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller as saying.