* FBI sees no credible threat for event
* Between 600,000 and 800,000 people expected
By Deborah Charles
WASHINGTON, Jan 15 The U.S. Secret Service said
it hopes to balance security with pragmatism during upcoming
inauguration festivities, making changes to prevent a repeat of
2009, when thousands of people got stuck in a tunnel and never
saw President Barack Obama's swearing in.
Less than a week before the Jan. 21 inauguration, the Secret
Service, FBI and other law enforcement agencies said they hope
changes will improve the flow of hundreds of thousands of people
who are expected to gather on the National Mall to watch Obama
begin his second term.
More signs, better communication and lessons from crowd
experts should help, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said.
The agency, which is in charge of security for inauguration
weekend, wants to avoid a repeat of 2009, when thousands were
diverted in a tunnel under the National Mall, Donovan said.
"Everyone was frustrated and disappointed, speaking for the
planners ... that people were not able to get where they needed
to go," Donovan told reporters at a security briefing. "But,
keep in mind, in 2009 we had almost 2 million people on the
Mall. We didn't have any arrests, there were no security related
"Our goal was met of having a very safe inauguration. But we
recognize that we need to get the logistics right too and
everyone gets where they need to go," Donovan said.
This time around, the crowds will likely be much smaller.
The Washington Chamber of Commerce predicts between 600,000 and
800,000 people will attend the event, down from 1.8 million in
2009, but still about twice the average for inaugurations,
chamber spokesman Max Farrow said.
U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers said police spoke
with crowd experts to understand how they could make sure people
got into and out of events with ease.
"We've modified the flow (of people), we've modified
(street) closures," Chambers said. "We've modified even where
the Porta-Potties are. We need to be certain folks can get to
them and then back."
NO CREDIBLE THREAT
The FBI said it has no "credible or corroborated threat"
against the inaugural events this year, but it will deploy a
large number of agents during inaugural events.
FBI supervisory special agent Jacqueline Maguire of the
Washington Field Office would not say how many agents would be
involved, but said the numbers would be similar to 2009.
Inauguration events begin on Saturday. Obama's public
swearing in takes place on Monday, Jan. 21, followed by the
inaugural parade from the U.S. Capitol to the White House.
This year, U.S. officials will use social media to keep the
Chambers said the Park Police would communicate via text
message, Twitter and Facebook in an effort to reach as many
people as possible if roads need to be closed or if there are
changes that needed to be communicated.
"We'd rather folks get the information more than once than
not at all," Chambers said.