EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 14, 2009

Local police to provide security at Obama's inauguration

When President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office Tuesday, 85 local police officers will be part of a force of 4,000 officers from around the country charged with providing security at the inaugural events.

The 85 officers are part of the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council's regional response team, which has provided crowd control for the World Series and Democratic National Convention and also the 2004 inauguration of President George Bush.

"It is a national security event," said North Andover police Chief Richard Stanley, NEMLEC's control chief for the regional response team and the SWAT team.

Calling it an "honor and a privilege" to be invited to take part, Stanley said the NEMLEC officers will provide crowd control along the parade route and at some of the inaugural balls.

"The officers will represent our area very well," Stanley said.

He said event planners have taken notice of predictions of a very large turnout — as many as 5 million people — for the event.

"We attended the 55th inaugural for Bush and Cheney and there were far fewer officers involved," Stanley said.

Andover police Lt. William MacKenzie is the commanding officer of the 160-man regional response team. NEMLEC will be one of 83 or 84 agencies from around the country that will be present to help provide security and crowd control, he said.

"That's a lot of people to police," MacKenzie said of the estimated 5 million expected to be on hand for the event.

Planners are always concerned with the possibility that something will happen whether it is a terrorist attack or a riot, he said. And with large crowds there are always medical issues or evacuation issues to deal with, he said.

"The young guys going on the trip are excited. It is a chance to take part in something bigger than their towns and bigger than NEMLEC. It's a global event," he said.

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