The smooth transition of power is the hallmark of any democracy. Inauguration Day in the U.S. is typically celebrated by citizens, residents, and visitors alike, providing them opportunities to participate in the traditions and festivities of a peaceful power transition, and to be proud of what it represents. But the Presidential Inauguration is also a high-risk security event, not least because large crowds can endanger people’s safety and the protections of property and assets. This year’s inauguration in particular—due to civil unrest stemming from the 2020 Presidential election results, an ongoing impeachment trial, and rising coronavirus cases in the deadly pandemic— poses a series of credible security threats which are being taken into account by the FBI, police, the National Guard, and the denizens of Washington D.C. and in capital cities across the nation.
The 2021 Presidential Inauguration comes on the heels of the breach of the U.S. Capitol, which resulted in the disruption of government, destruction of property, numerous injuries, and 5 deaths. In response, enhanced and robust security measures will define this year’s Presidential Inauguration. An unprecedented number of National Guardsmen from across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic will assist with responding to threats and securing the event. A 7-foot-high non-scalable fence now encircles the entire Capitol grounds. The Washington Monument will be closed due to credible threats. Meanwhile, there is an ongoing FBI manhunt to track down the rioters who stormed the Capitol building and assaulted police. Investigators are also looking for the person or persons responsible for leaving pipe bombs at the Democratic National Committee headquarters and the Republican National Committee headquarters.
While the inauguration event itself is of course held in D.C., it’s important to remember that the symbolism of the inauguration affects the entire country— and there is significant concern around armed protests being organized to target state capitol facilities from coast to coast. Online groups—many of whom are unhappy with the results of the 2020 election, the impeachment of the President, and perceived violations of first amendment rights—are organizing with the potential for violence. Federal authorities have advised state and local law enforcement agencies to increase their security posture at statehouses throughout the country and warn of credible threats. These security threats include breaches of facilities, bomb threats, and large protests involving armed individuals. Additional law enforcement and military support has been deployed or is prepared to deploy at many state capitol buildings.
In addition to issues of civil unrest, the country is also dealing with an unprecedented spike in coronavirus cases and deaths. In addition to the heightened security, the incoming administration has also planned a scaled-back Inauguration Day with a focus on pandemic safety procedures, fewer public events, and a smaller gathering on the National Mall to limit the spread of the virus. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has urged Americans not to travel to Washington for the Presidential Inauguration, suggesting people participate virtually instead.
No matter what happens on Inauguration Day, a new administration will assume office, and it is important for leaders of all organizations across the country to ensure that their people within high-risk areas are safe and facilities are secure. The role of these leaders will be extraordinarily important on Inauguration Day in keeping employees informed and calm in ushering in a new administration, and helping them prepare for a new chapter.
This marks the second Presidential Election in which D.C.-area public safety agencies are using Everbridge to help protect residents and attendees ensure a smooth day of activities. City officials encourage residents and visitors to sign up to receive the latest information and updates leading up to and throughout the event. Current subscribers in the Washington, D.C. area will continue to receive their regular local alerts from Everbridge and can choose to opt-in to Presidential Inauguration specific information.
“From a private sector perspective, the inauguration provides tremendous opportunities to enhance businesses and assure employees that senior leaders in their organizations are prepared to step up and do the right thing to ensure their safety and wellbeing during this transition, as they always are, regardless of the event. –Tracy Reinhold, Chief Security Officer at Everbridge.
Read more about how Everbridge uses risk intelligence to keep people safe and assets secure using the most trustworthy data sources combined with an experienced team of analysts to empower organizations to proactively monitor and mitigate risk.