Event Security in Our Nation's Capital
The Newseum, downtown Washington, DC’s aptly named museum of news, offers visitors an experience that blends five centuries of news history with the latest technology and hands-on exhibits.
As one of the most defining architectural designs in the DC cityscape, the Newseum sits on a prime location at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street NW, between the White House and the U.S. Capitol and adjacent to the Smithsonian museums. It has become one of the most popular sites to visit in the area, and within a year of its opening, 714,000 tourists have come through the doors.
The Newseum has played host to numerous special events, including many during the 2009 Presidential Inauguration celebration. When the Newseum neared completion in early 2008, museum officials were looking to develop a security program that could take on the challenges of a high profile, high traffic facility. The security team would also be responsible for visitor safety and an additional layer of customer service. Some of the nation’s leading news anchors, politicians, ambassadors and entertainers would soon be visitors.
AlliedBarton’s extensive recruiting and training resources allowed for a security team of 46 full-time officers to be operating effectively and integrated with the Newseum staff in time for the opening on April 11. “AlliedBarton’s team had the experience we needed,” said James Thompson, Newseum Vice President/Operations and Deputy Director. “They were willing to work with us to develop a top security program specifically for our building.”
The planning stages for the 2009 Inaugural events began in August 2008, and the Newseum was quickly placed in the spotlight. It would soon become a main tourist attraction, and numerous media outlets would plan to conduct their programs on-site. This additional influx of visitors and events was sure to present some security challenges.
The AlliedBarton team knew the Inaugural events were going to require the use of all resources and would be the ultimate test for the effectiveness of their training. The high profile nature of these events required the security team to be extra diligent. This included checking for counterfeit tickets, ensuring all visitors passed through the magnetometers and had the correct credentials, in addition to many of their other daily tasks.
As always, their goal was to ensure the safety and security of all individuals in the building while providing an educational and entertaining atmosphere – but crowds this size were going to be like nothing they had ever seen.
AlliedBarton officers are trained and prepared to handle customary event security; however, with millions of people descending on Washington, DC, extra measures were taken to ensure that the security during the Inauguration was seamless and efficient.
AlliedBarton’s security team met with the Secret Service, the Metropolitan Police Department and many other public and private organizations involved in security for months prior to the event. AlliedBarton’s highly-trained staff was prepared for the security challenges associated with the anticipated number of visitors. Newseum officials knew they were in good hands thanks to AlliedBarton’s commitment to quality personnel and training.
“Our customer service role is very important to the success of the museum,” said AlliedBarton Account Manager Paul Mason. “We work very hard with the rest of the staff to provide visitors with the best experience possible while at the Newseum. This was especially important during the Inauguration events. The crowds of people visiting the museum rely on our team for safety, information and response to their many needs.”
More than 25,000 visitors passed through the doors of the Newseum during the week of the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. And on the day of the event, more than 5,000 people were concentrated into areas with a vantage point to watch the events unfold. Additionally, nearly two million individuals were present in the nation’s capital on Inauguration day.
“We had to double our man power for the Inauguration, which included 28 officers on duty during each shift,” said Mason. “Our officers picked up extra shifts, and came in to work early and stayed late.” The success of such a high-profile event is a testament to the high-quality professionals working for both AlliedBarton and the Newseum.
“The Inauguration would be a challenge for any security force. Our officers across Washington, DC, and the surrounding areas made us all proud that day,” added Daman Toth, AlliedBarton District Manager. “Our location on the parade route, as well as the broadcasts and events taking place within the Newseum, created a very demanding situation. While our training is put to work every day, at every post, it really shines at a time like this when all limits are tested.”
The events leading up to and on Inauguration day went off without incident. “Our security officers do a wonderful job,” said Thompson. “Ninety percent of our visitors probably don’t know that they are a contracted firm. AlliedBarton is very much a part of the Newseum staff.”