SPD at 2009 Presidential Inauguration

SPD group in front of the White House

SPD group in front of the White House

The following is a brief account of SPD’s involvement in Tuesday’s Inaugural event by Det. Mark Jamieson of the Media Relations Unit.

Forty-two sworn members of the Seattle Police Department were given the chance of a lifetime when we were asked to assist the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department with parade and swearing-in venue security at Tuesday’s Inauguration. The SPD contingent was part of the more than 4,000 law enforcement officers asked to assit DCMPD with providing security for the largest event ever held in the District of Columbia.

The majority of our group arrived in Washington late on Sunday evening.  We made it out to our hotel in Virginia and checked in.  The following day, Monday, the 19th, we headed back to D.C. for a briefing put on for outside agencies by MPD.  We received our Inauguration credentials from the Secret Service and a specially-made badge for the event.  We were then sworn in by the U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia, granting us temporary police powers while in D.C. We learned from MPD that Tuesday’s event would be not only the biggest Inauguration ever, but the largest single event in D.C.’s history.  After the briefing, we drove by the National Mall and witnessed the hundreds of thousands of people already staking out their place for the event.  After spending a little time downtown, it was back to hotel for an early dinner and wake-up the next morning.

Tuesday, January 20th.  Inauguration Day.  Most of us were up by 1:00 AM.  We had a quick bite to eat in the hotel, followed by a meeting at 2:30 AM.  We were on the bus at 3:00 and downtown by around 4:30.  We had been informed during the briefing that our assignment would be along the parade route, on 15th Street, next to the Treasurary Building.  We were standing at our post by 6:00 A.M.  The weather was clear, but it was about 15 degrees with a wind that would every so often come barrelling down the street.  It was cold.  Fortunately, our sergeants and lieutenants were able to get us breaks at regular intervals, so we could head to the JW Marriott about a block away, where they had set aside a special room for officers with coffee and food.  As the day progressed, more and more people began filling up the stands, although along our particular strech of the street we did not see the millions of people they had just a half mile from us on the Mall. However, the overall mood of the crowd was one of celebration and euphoria, and it was later reported that there was not a single arrest made during the Inauguration.  We remained at our location, along with officers from D.C. Metro, Utah State Patrol, and officers from Texas across the street, along with soldiers from the 3rd Infantry, the Old Guard.  We stayed on our post through the swearing in, at around noon.  The Inaugural Parade was scheduled to begin at 2:30 PM, but it was a bit delayed.  Sometime after 3:00 the parade began.  We were toward the end of the route, where the route turns from Pennsylvania Avenue onto 15th, travels down 15th for about a block or so, and then turns left onto Pennsylvania Ave., leading to the rear of the White House.  The President and First Family passed by us in the motorcade, followed by the numerous bands and groups that made up the parade.  By that time, the majority of the crowd we were responsible for had left due to the cold weather.  We remained on our post until the very end of the parade, around 7:00 PM.  Then it was time to walk back to bus and make our way out of the city and back to hotel, where most of us celebrated by having dinner and then getting some well-earned sleep.  The next day most of us were flying home, so it was time to check out and make our way to the airports for afternoon flights.

Although it was a whirlwind trip, it was a fantastic experience and I believe that the Seattle Police Department can be proud of it’s role in this historic event.  It was really an amazing thing to be a part of.