FBI Seal Federal Bureau of Investigation
Home Site Map FAQs

Contact Us

Your Local FBI Office
Overseas Offices
Submit a Crime Tip
Report Internet Crime
More Contacts
Learn About Us
Quick Facts
What We Investigate
Natl. Security Branch
Information Technology
Fingerprints & Training
Laboratory Services
Reports & Publications
More About Us
Get Our News
Press Room
E-mail Updates Red Envelope
News Feeds XML Icon
Be Crime Smart
Wanted by the FBI
More Protections
Use Our Resources
For Law Enforcement
For Communities
For Researchers
More Services 
Visit Our Kids' Page
Apply for a Job

Headline Archives

Behind the Scenes

Inaugural Security
Watch our tactical command center and response teams in action on Inauguration Day.  

As Barack Obama took the oath of office to become the 44th President of the United States, the men and women in our Command and Tactical Operations Center paused briefly to witness the historic occasion on flat screens around the room—but only briefly. Then it was back to the business of communicating with agents in the field and our partners at other command posts around the city to continue to monitor the event and to assess any possible threats.

Millions of people arrived in Washington almost overnight for inaugural activities, but we started planning security with our law enforcement partners six months ago. Our 24/7 security coverage began January 17 and continued throughout the festivities.

The Secret Service is on point for protecting the President and takes the lead for inaugural security, but issues involving terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and crisis management are the FBI’s responsibility.

 To learn more about our inaugural security, check out our "Inside the FBI" podcast, also available on iTunes, and the latest edition of our FBI, This Week radio program.

From the command center at our Washington Field Office, agents, analysts, administrators, and members of our Joint Terrorism Task Force fielded tips from the public and used sophisticated mapping and surveillance technology to track suspicious activity as well as to monitor our response teams on the ground near the Capitol and the inaugural parade route along Pennsylvania Avenue.

Inaugural Security
FBI agents and analysts and other Bureau partners in the command center.

More than 150 plainclothes teams on foot and in vehicles were “our eyes and ears on the ground—our trip wires, if you will,” said John Perren, Special Agent in Charge of our Counterterrorism Division at our Washington office. The teams were looking for anything suspicious—an abandoned backpack at a Metro station that could be a bomb, an unknown liquid in a plastic bottle that might be a weapon of mass destruction. If necessary, ground teams could also quickly respond to a crisis situation.

The command center—the hub of FBI communications activity—enabled teams in the field to share information in real time and allowed its staff to continually update the threat assessment. Manning the operation were some of the Bureau’s most “battle-tested” personnel, said Joseph Persichini, Jr., who heads the Washington Field Office. “Many people in the room were here during 9/11 and responded to the Pentagon after the attacks,” he said. “Our team is phenomenal.”

Inaugural Security
FBI agents from the Washington Field Office with one of the tactical vehicles we had on standby.

But every major event is different, he added, and despite the fact that our extensive intelligence gathering revealed no credible threats prior to Inauguration Day, the command post responded immediately to multiple threats. Our intelligence assets from around the world were put into play to “run any threats to the ground,” Perren said.

Meanwhile, over at the Joint Information Center run by the U.S. Secret Service, more than 20 agencies handled all the media for security issues. "We got every call under the sun," said Richard Kolko, who along with Jason Pack represented the FBI at the center.

Inaugural Security
FBI special agents from the National Press Office helped field a flood of media calls on inauguration security in the U.S. Secret Service's Joint Information Center.

Inaugural Security
The FBI also worked shoulder-to-shoulder with several law enforcement partners to staff our strategic command center, or SIOC, at FBI Headquarters during the Inauguration.

Later in the day, as President Obama made his way down Pennsylvania Avenue on his way to the White House, flanked by what may be a record number of onlookers, one of our agents on the street praised the cooperation between our law enforcement partners and all the behind-the-scenes efforts that went into not only the President’s security but the public’s safety.

“It’s a good feeling,” he said, “that our work allowed people to celebrate this historic event without any major security incidents.”

- Pre-Inauguration Press Release and Photos

Headline Archives home