Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mr. Obama goes to Washington, and not a moment too soon

I happened to be in Chicago's Loop area the past two evenings, close to the Federal Building in which Barack Obama is carrying out his transition. Security is remarkable, as one might expect, with a ring of cars from various police forces ringing the actual block, and more officers and cars at various locations some blocks away. I saw police from the Chicago Police Department, from Homeland Security, from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I understand they are within DHS, but they seem to wear different windbreakers).

The questions that occurred to me were, who decides how many officers are needed, and how do they coordinate that many different agencies (I'm guessing that the Secret Service is around somewhere, and I'd guess that they're the primary agency)? Not that I would question the need for all that, I've heard about the high number of death threats, but one does wonder if there isn't some overlap that could be pared down (a couple of times I saw a big cluster of officers standing all together, which would make me think that there may be some redundancy).

Apparently I'm not the only one raising questions like this (and I do so timidly, recognizing the need). The Chicago Police union is asking about "the number of officers who have been pulled out of neighborhood districts to help provide security for Obama."

I don't really have any insight on this, other than to hope nothing untoward happens, but, despite our civic pride and all, I think most Chicagoans will feel better on January 20 when things can return to whatever passes for normal. I'm fairly certain the Secret Service shares my view.

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