WASHINGTON – Maryland will contribute about half of the estimated 1,600 police officers who will come to Washington to help provide Inauguration Day security, department spokesmen say.
Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will each contribute about 300 officers, while the Maryland State Police will send between 100 and 200 troopers, officials said.
Capt. Bill O’Toole, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Police Department, said county officers volunteered for the duty and will receive overtime pay. The department will be reimbursed by Congress, he said.
But for O’Toole, it’s not about the money.
It’s a “great opportunity,” he said. “I’ve never even had an opportunity to attend a presidential inauguration.”
Aside from the historical opportunity, O’Toole said he feels a special duty toward the inauguration as a veteran.
“I’ve spoken to several other officers,” O’Toole said. “A lot of them are doing it for similar reasons.”
The request for extra police presence is unusual — the last time there was such a large police presence on Inauguration Day was in the 1960s, O’Toole said. But planners have ratcheted up security for this inaugural because of the high emotions generated by the historically close election, and because of large-scale protests in recent years against global trade and lending.
The request for volunteers was made several months before anyone knew who the president would be. But O’Toole said it makes little difference: For the officers who volunteered, the assignment is not political.
Maryland State Police Cpl. Rob Moroney said troopers from “all across the state” will be on hand Saturday. Unlike the county officers, he said, troopers were assigned to the detail.
The District is “a neighboring jurisdiction that needs assistance. We’re always happy to help them out,” he said.
Officer Kervin Johnson of the Metropolitan Police Department said Congress was picking up the tab for all of the extra officers.
Johnson said that the department looked primarily to adjacent jurisdictions for help. Arlington and Fairfax counties, Alexandria and the Virginia State Police are also contributing officers.
District police said this week that about 200 additional officers from Pennsylvania would be participating, even though police in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City and several outlying jurisdictions said they had not been asked for assistance. Johnson was not sure why more Maryland counties were not asked for help.
Moroney said Maryland troopers would meet off-site and travel downtown by bus Saturday. The officers will then be sworn in as federal agents – giving them the appropriate arrest authority, should it be necessary – and then they will get their assignments. Most of the troopers will be assigned along the parade route, he said.
Even though it’s O’Toole’s first inauguration, he said he wasn’t expecting to see much of the parade – most officers would face the crowds and protesters, and have their backs to the politicians and floats.