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Answers from Police Chief Lanier

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier was online Friday, Jan. 16 at 11 a.m. ET to take your questions about the security risks presented by the inauguration, how the city is preparing for the influx of visitors and what you need to know for a safe and hassle-free inauguration experience. Here are some excerpts from the discussion:

Washington, D.C.: Chief Lanier: I want to watch the swearing-in from one of the Jumbotrons on the mall. Do I have to go through the parade-watching entry points, even if I am not watching the parade? I plan to be walking, approaching from the north and will have to cross Penn. Ave. That's why I am concerned about getting caught in the parade security and count. Thank you.

Cathy Lanier: You can access the mall from the north WITHOUT passing through the parade route check points on the east via the Third Street Tunnel or on the west from 18th Street - 23rd Street and then go south.

Midtown, DC: Chief Lanier,

PLEASE clear up the confusion for everyone with actual tickets to see the parade. If I have tickets to the parade, do I have to get there as early as everyone who lines the parade route? Here's what a Post article on 1/13 said:

"But according to a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment, capacity is expected to be between 280,000 and 300,000. That number will include only those people standing on the sidewalks; it does not include the 5,000 people who have tickets to sit on bleachers along the parade route."

And here's what you are attributed as saying in the Post yesterday:

"And she had this warning for people who think that, because they have a ticket to the parade, they can show up later than anyone else. Once authorities determine that the crowd has reached capacity along the Pennsylvania Avenue route, no one will be admitted, regardless of whether they have a ticket. She gave no prediction for when that might happen but urged people to keep checking the Web sites."

Which is it???

Cathy Lanier: I cannot speak for the US Park Police, who is the lead agency for the parade route area, but I will say that based on our discussions with all of the agencies involved, we fully expect the parade route area to be filled by 10:00 or 11:00 AM. The US PP has said that once the parade route is full the check points will close and no one else will be permitted. This is the same for the Swearing in Ceremony at the Capitol. This is important so ticket holders do not come late thinking that they will be able to get in at any time.

Fairfax, Va.: It hasn't yet been made clear whether you may bring fold-up chairs to the Lincoln Memorial concert on Sunday afternoon. Will those be allowed past the security checkpoints? Thanks.

Cathy Lanier: The US Park Police said yesterday that you can bring folding chairs for the event on Sunday. Please continue to check the websites posted

Food and Med worries: I have diabetes. Will I be able to bring my syringe delivered insulin and snacks into the ticketed area?

Cathy Lanier: Yes. Please bundle up and stay safe. There will be medical tents along the mall throughout all of the events. Don't hesitate to use them if you need assistance.

Washington, DC: I live 2 blocks off of U Street in the Dupont/Adams Morgan area. I am really concerned about the security in the area, with the bars open all night and millions of people in town. There are regularly violent incidents on normal nights without these factors. What is the MPD doing to protect people in the neighborhoods during this event, especially at night?

Cathy Lanier: We will have extra police officers deployed throughout the city in all of the areas NOT associated with the Inaug. Events. We actually began our extended shifts today to add officers to those areas in advance. You should see plenty of police

Read the full transcript at www.washingtonpost.com/discussions.

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  January 16, 2009; 12:10 PM ET  | Category:  Answers
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(cross-posted from pre-chat post:)

Post reporters, we need your help. Please, please, make someone at Park Police give you an answer on the question of whether parade ticketholder access will be cut off at the same time that non-ticketholder access is deemed to have hit capacity.

In her chat, Chief Lanier referred us all to Park Police, saying it was out of her jurisdiction. I just called USPP's Communications Section at (202) 619-7105 and no one there had an answer for me.

In fact they didn't even seem to understand the question; they kept saying "if you're not in your seat by 30 minutes before the parade begins, we will give your seat away." I kept saying "All right, I understand, but that's not my question; what if you all cut off non-ticket-holder access to the parade route at 11 AM and I show up at 11:30? Can I still get in?" Finally I got "I don't know the answer to that."

I was told I could try to call (202) 727-9009 to attempt to get someone who has an answer, but that number just rings and rings. I don't even know what that number is to; Google search results are not encouraging.

Surely someone somewhere must have the power to make a call on this and disseminate the information to the public! The parade tickets and accompanying instructional literature say nothing about having to arrive on the route before the open standing area reaches capacity, and many people will be disappointed---and out the cost of their tickets---if we are turned away.

Posted by: bug451 | January 16, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Seconding the above. A straight answer on this would help me tremendously.

Posted by: oceanchild | January 16, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Agree with the above. A simple question like this ought to be given a simple answer.

Posted by: bjackrian | January 16, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Can you speak to folk we can not seem to reach by phone or otherwise

I am travelling from Canada and relied on the ticket saying you had to be seated a half hour in advance
There is a specified entry point off the parade route:

The ticket says bleachers open at 7 for a parade that PIC2009 says starts after 2:30, do I really need to "save" my reserved seat for 7 hours?

I understand the need to stop unticketed folk from crushing those who are in an area already filled to capacity But that does not apply to the fenced off bleacher area

My yellow A gate is at 13th St NW at E Street NW,
A block off the route so i figure no one will be watching the parade there?

If this is what ticket notation "no seat guaranteed" meant someone mislead a lot of us who paid for a "reserved" seat

To avoid unpleasantness on the day can we get something we can print off now and show if we are right so we can get to our seats???


Posted by: dshort99 | January 16, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

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