About 290 Philadelphia police officers will get a front-row view of President-elect Barack Obama's Jan. 20 inaugural festivities.
Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey has agreed to send 250 officers and 40 supervisors to help Washington law enforcement officials manage crowds expected to exceed 1.5 million for Obama's swearing-in ceremonies.
During an orientation yesterday at the Philadelphia Police Academy, some volunteers chosen for the assignment began filling out the paperwork required to become temporarily deputized as U.S. marshals for the duration of the event.
Washington Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier told reporters that she planned to nearly double the Metropolitan Police Department's force with 4,000 officers from 93 jurisdictions across the country.
The outside agencies are expected to be assigned responsibility for crowd control along sections of the parade route, said Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner Stephen Johnson Sr. He said the Philadelphia contingent might also be assigned to manage security at one of the inaugural balls.
Ramsey, who as Lanier's predecessor in Washington managed the 2001 and 2005 inaugurals, said the inaugural organizers would reimburse Philadelphia for the cost of transporting, housing, feeding and paying the officers on the three-day assignment.
"They're going to get enormous crowds for this one," Ramsey said. While the commissioner won't be part of the department's contingent, he said, he plans to travel to Washington for the inaugural, to appear on a television station there as an unpaid commentator on security preparations.
The officers who are part of the contingent were selected by supervisors from among 500 who responded to a call for volunteers, Ramsey said.
The officers will be bused to Washington on Jan. 18 and sworn in on Jan. 19, when they will receive their assignments. The Secret Service is the lead law enforcement agency handling security.
"It's complicated just because of the sheer size of the contingent," said Johnson, who also sent 75 officers to the Republican National Convention in Minnesota in September.
"It's a historic occasion, and the huge crowds that are expected are going to be the biggest challenge," Johnson said.