Throngs to Watch - And Be Watched
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The 140,000 people who watch Ronald Reagan and George Bush take their oath of office will be stopped, watched, searched, passed, stopped, screened, stopped and questioned before they get anywhere within shouting - or shooting - distance of the inaugurees.
With the exception of Reagan, Bush and entourage, everyone going to the ceremony will have to pass through metal detectors set up at four places around the Capitol grounds.
Capt. Michael Hanneld of the U.S. Capitol Police said his troops and helpers from the Secret Service will try to make the process as painless as possible.
But, he conceded ″there may be some lines.″
The number of people expected, it should be pointed out, would fill the Rose Bowl and leave 34,000 stranded outside. Such a crowd would fill the Houston Astrodome three times over.
It also outnumbers the people who will see the real inauguration Sunday in the privacy of the White House by 1,555 to 1. Only 90 people have been invited to the ceremony, being held in private because inauguration day falls on Sunday. The Monday ceremony, a word-for-word retake, is only for show.
At the summer Olympics in Los Angeles, metal detectors were used to screen the 90,000-plus people who attended the opening and closing ceremonies. At peak times, the wait mostly was no longer than a half hour.
It’s a cliche to say it, but Hanneld does: Security has never been so tight.
The U.S. Capitol police has 1,200 officers and, Hanneld says, ″it’s a reasonable presumption everyone will be working.″ He would not say how many unfiormed and plain clothes agents the Secret Service will contribute.
Snow fences are in place at the Capitol to ″serve as guides″ in directing people, Hanneld said. ″We’ll have police officers positioned there. We don’t expect snow fences alone could stop anyone from coming in.″
The police official declined to discuss such minutiae as how high ranking an official would have to be in order to be spared the metal detectors.
The security arrangements include the usual closing of federal buildings, sharpshooters at the ready on rooftops, barricaded streets and bolted-down manhole covers.
On Sunday, the Secret Service closed off a portion of Wisconsin Avenue, a major north-south artery in city, as Reagan attended a prayer service at the National Cathedral. Residents in buildings across the street from the cathedral were warned by the Secret Service to stay off their balconies and to refrain from trying to view the president from the roof.
President Reagan’s inaugural suit, while stylish, will also be able to stop a .357-magnum bullet at close range. Between the president and the crowd will be a bulletproof shield.
And, nobody will confirm it, but a security guard armed with shoulder- launche d antiaircraft missiles reportedly will be nearby.
For most of the inauguration goers and gala attendees, their brush with state-of-the-art security will be the magnetometers. And the lines forming behind them.