District residents may have fewer police officers in their neighborhoods and could experience delays in public transportation in the days leading up to the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration, but public agency leaders said Friday a safe environment has become the priority since the a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee III and Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld joined Mayor Muriel Bowser and other law enforcement officials on the District and federal levels at a news conference to explain the heightened security measures in the vicinity of the Capitolas a result of Jan. 6 attacks.
Contee made it clear that while the police department will have a strong presence near and on the inauguration site, which will be the west side of the Capitol, District neighborhoods will be protected.
“Protecting the Capitol site will not be an all-hands-on deck operation,” the police chief said. “The entire agency will be on duty whether it is to protect the Capitol or patrolling D.C. neighborhoods. The MPD is agile and nimble enough to do both and we will have the support of our federal partners to keep D.C. neighborhoods safe.”
Wiedefeld said in order to keep riders of his transit system safe, he agreed to shut down 13 rail stations and detour 26 bus routes in the area of the Capitol and downtown Washington from Jan. 16 to Jan. 21. He noted trains will pass through the shuttered stations to go to their destinations.
When asked whether this action would inconvenience many District residents who must go to their worksites to earn a living, Wiedefeld said that while he understands the challenges riders face, “it is necessary for their safety.”
“We can serve our customers best as they ride through the zone to get to where they want to go,” he said. “We want to make sure that everyone is safe.”
Contee and Wiedefeld made their comments at the news conference after Bowser announced road closures in downtown Washington, the Capitol and the National Mall areas until Jan. 21. Leaders of the Secret Service and the National Park Service police said they are aware of apparent threats during the inauguration period and are working collaboratively with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to quell any attempt at violence.
The mayor encouraged District residents to stay vigilant and “if they see something suspicious, say something.”