Washington Mayor Worried About Security Threats to Residential Areas

January 18, 2021 Updated: January 18, 2021

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said that in addition to having security concerns focused on key parts of the city that directly relate to the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, she’s also worried about potential threats to residential neighborhoods.

“I’m not only concerned about other state capitals, I’m also concerned about other parts of Washington D.C.,” Bowser said Jan. 17 on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Bowser was responding to a question by host Chuck Todd, who pointed out that much of the nation’s capital has been converted into a “fortress” in the lead-up to the inauguration, and asked, “Are you concerned that we’re so secure in one place that they’re going to find softer targets in other parts of the city?”

A person crosses the street at a roadblock guarded by Pennsylvania 112th Infantry Regiment National Guard in Washington on Jan. 16, 2021. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Bowser said a range of agencies have been working to ensure that not only is the inauguration conducted safely, but that plans have been made to respond to potential threats in residential areas.

“What you’re showing is really the federal enclave of Washington D.C., not where the 700,000 of us live,” Bowser said. “So our police department working with our federal law enforcement partners and the United States Army, quite frankly, also has a plan to pivot if we have any attacks in our neighborhoods,” she added.

Echoing her Jan. 15 remarks that people should expect a “new normal” in terms of security measures around Washington after the inauguration, Bowser told Todd that there would be a realignment of security priorities.

“I do think we have to take another posture in our city that is more domestic terrorist focused than external to our country and act accordingly,” she said. “Now, we don’t want to see fences. We definitely don’t want to see armed troops on our streets. But we do have to take a different posture.”

On Jan. 15, Bowser had said, “I think our entire country is going to have to deal with how our intelligence apparatus, security apparatus at every level deal with a very real and present threat to our nation.”

The heightened security posture comes after the Capitol was stormed by rioters and protesters while a joint session of Congress was meeting on Jan. 6 to certify Biden’s victory.

Protesters and rioters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building
Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Since the incident, barriers have been erected around the Capitol, its office buildings, and the Supreme Court, while about 25,000 National Guard members are being deployed in the nation’s capital this week.

While the Secret Service is in charge of security for the inauguration, there’s a wide variety of military and law enforcement personnel involved, ranging from the National Guard and the FBI to Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, U.S. Capitol Police, and U.S. Park Police.

“We cannot allow a recurrence of the chaos and illegal activity that the United States and the world witnessed last week,” Matthew Miller, the head of the Secret Service’s Washington field office, told reporters.

The security measures have brought Washington to almost a complete standstill, with more than a dozen Metro stations around the National Mall and U.S. Capitol building closed in the days before the inauguration.

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