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D.C. Police Hope Visiting Officers Will Learn From ‘The Best’

Andrew Harnik

The Washington Metropolitan Police Department hopes the more than 3,000 police officers from across the country heading to D.C. this week to help secure the inauguration will learn some things while they’re there.

Thirteen Pittsburgh police officers and two supervisors left for D.C. Wednesday, will be sworn in as federal marshals Thursday and then put to work Friday providing security along the inaugural parade route.

“You can learn from every event,” said Peter Newsham, Interim D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief. “Every time we’ve had an inauguration over my career the planning and the preparation and our ability to handle unforeseen events gets better and better.”

Newsham said he hopes the officers on loan from other jurisdictions, including Pittsburgh, will take a few new ideas back to their departments.

“I tell everybody the amount of planning that went into this particular event is more than I have seen in my career,” Newsham said. “We consider ourselves one of the best, if not the best, at handling these things.”

By “these things” Newsham meant protests and rallies, but the department has a long history of providing security for inaugurations. He said the D.C. Metro police have been involved in keeping the peace at inaugurations since 1865 when President Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office for the second time. Newsham has been a part of the last six inaugurations.

One key to pass along to the officers, according to Newsham, is that police play the role of a facilitator.

“Whatever message the demonstrators have, none of that should really make a difference to the officers. We’re going to facilitate folks to come here and to peacefully exercise their First Amendment right,” Newsham said.

But if a protester breaks the law, Newsham said they will be “safely and respectfully taken into custody.”

Officers will be on the lookout for any terroristic activity, but Newsham said so far there are no known credible threats.

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