Valdosta Daily Times

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January 21, 2013

Inauguration-goers find tight DC security, delays

WASHINGTON —  Hundreds of thousands of spectators at President Barack Obama's second inauguration encountered blocked-off streets, delays at some security checkpoints and a packed National Mall. But authorities reported no major problems before or during Monday's swearing-in, with a crowd that appeared far smaller than the record-breaking turnout of 2009.

Police officers were stationed inside rail stations and on street corners, National Guard Humvees blocked some intersections in downtown Washington and spectators were shuffled through security checkpoints to be screened for prohibited items including balloons, glass containers and weapons. Flight restrictions were in place in the skies above Washington and more than 2,000 out-of-town officers were specially sworn in to work security.
 
Officials had hoped that earlier and more signs, plus additional magnetometers, would ease pedestrian congestion and reduce some of the logistical snafus from four years ago.
 
But even with smaller crowds this year, there were sporadic reports of slow-moving security lines, including at a checkpoint between Union Station and the U.S. Capitol that came to a halt so a motorcade could pass and barriers could be repositioned. Stuck spectators vented on Twitter that the line did not move for at least a half-hour and that they were redirected to another security gate.
 
"It was a little tense this morning" at some of the gates, acknowledged D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, who sent additional officers to deal with crowding at the gates for people with tickets to the ceremony. She said the crowd was larger than she anticipated, and that many people decided to come later. But she said that her department didn't have to deal with any major problems.
 
Some repeat inauguration-goers said the experience was easier this year than in 2009, when 1.8 million people packed the Mall and temperatures dropped below freezing.

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