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Homeland Security Has ‘Technology to Deal with’ Illegal Drones at Inauguration

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson talks about inauguration security Jan. 13, 2017, at the Multi Agency Communications Center (MACC) in Dulles, Va. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON – Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said 28,000 law enforcement personnel will be dedicated to security at the inauguration of President-elect Trump and that there is “no specific credible threat” directed toward the festivities at this time.

“We know of no specific credible threat directed toward the inauguration. However, that is only part of the story,” Johnson said at a press conference on inauguration preparation today.

Johnson told reporters that federal agencies expect a crowd between 700,000 and 900,000 – in 2009, 1.8 million descended upon D.C. for the festivities; four years later, just over a million people came – and at least 99 different organizations demonstrating around the inauguration over a three-day period from Jan. 19-21. He said the total cost of security is a matter of “doing the math” but he’s sure it’s a “huge number.”

“We know of 99 different organizations that intend to demonstrate in one form or another at the inauguration in the area of the Capitol and the Mall – some pro and some con,” he said.

According to Johnson, law enforcement patrolling the area will include 10,000 from DHS, Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection and 12,000 other federal personnel such as the National Guard and FBI. In addition, 2,800 officials from the District of Columbia and 3,200 from local police departments are going to be on site.

Johnson was asked if he is concerned about reports of anarchists threatening to shut down the inauguration.

“It’s safe to say we are aware of a full range of reports of different types of planned activities, and in any event such as this special precautions are taken to ensure that the official event cannot be disrupted such as the parade and the procession of the presidential motorcade up to the Capitol and back,” he said. “We have our ear to the ground. We listen for and keep an eye on planned demonstrations – planned activity.”

Johnson was also asked if DHS is able to disable any drones that might appear over the area.

He said drones are “prohibited” in the airspace over Washington but they have plans to deal with them if needed.

“It’s something we have thought about – it’s something we have planned for and there’s technology to deal with it,” he said.

Johnson refused to elaborate on how DHS has planned to stop drones.

U.S. Park Police Deputy Chief Scott Fear outlined some of the steps taken to avoid clashes between opposing groups that protest at the inauguration.

He said his agency issues permits to the organizations and works with them on where they are specifically allowed to demonstrate.

“They will be spread out and they will be placed in areas where they can exercise their First Amendment right,” he said. “We also have personnel that will be monitoring these groups.”

Johnson told reporters there would be different perimeters established to block any unofficial vehicles, bearing in mind the terror attacks using trucks on crowds in France and Germany.

“This is an environment we are seeing now where we have to be concerned about individual acts of violent extremism, those who self-radicalize – and so we will be on guard for that as well,” he said.