|Thousands of purple and blue
ticketholders waited for hours but were unable to gain access.
The Facebook page "Survivors of
the Purple Tunnel of Doom" documents
"This is a group dedicated to all those with purple,
blue, and silver tickets to the inauguration who braved
the early morning cold (and the crowds) only to end
up in the proverbial or literal Purple Tunnel of Doom."
Washington, DC—The multi-agency law enforcement team, led by the U.S. Secret Service, today released an executive summary of its review of security and crowd management issues that developed during the 56th Presidential Inauguration. In addition to the Secret Service, the agencies that participated in the review included the U.S. Capitol Police, the Washington Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Park Police. The following is a comment by Senator Dianne Feinstein, who served as chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies:
“An enormous amount of preparation and planning went into this historic event, and I am grateful to all those who worked so hard to make the day a success. More than 1.8 million people attended the inaugural ceremonies, the largest public gathering in the history of Washington, DC, and there were no major arrests or injuries. But for those with tickets who could not get into the swearing-in ceremonies, or were turned away from the parade or one of the balls, it was a tremendous disappointment and a cause for outrage. To address the concerns raised by thousands of people who wrote to the Committee, I asked Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan to commission this comprehensive analysis.
While this review cannot change what happened, and may not satisfy all of those who were shut out of the event, it does provide a good assessment of both the successes and deficiencies of the planning for 2009. It also uses the lessons of 2009 to provide important and thoughtful guidance for the next inaugural planners.
The law enforcement review showed that a number of factors led to thousands of ticketed guests not being admitted to the Capitol grounds in time to witness the inauguration. These factors included the unprecedented crowds of non-ticketed guests trying to view the inauguration and merging with people who had tickets; different understandings of street closures between various law enforcement agencies; inadequate crowd management tools to direct, sort and queue the people seeking to get onto the Capitol grounds or gain access to the National Mall; and a failure to properly monitor or respond to the unexpected queuing of thousands of people in the northbound Third Street tunnel tube.
Among the extensive recommendations made by the review team are for the law enforcement agencies that have been solely responsible for crowd management to adopt a more integrated approach to crowd issues, including directly involving the Congressional and Presidential Inaugural Committees in the planning process and turning over responsibility for pre-screening and way-finding to these committees to hire staff or recruit volunteers for this function.
The report also recommends that the authority be better centralized within an executive steering committee established as part of the National Special Security Event designation to help resolve conflicts that might develop between the various law enforcement agencies involved and ensure that all agencies are working together on a common mission.
Some of the other key findings are provided below:
Later in the morning, when calls came into the MACC from people who felt trapped in the tunnel, the information was misinterpreted and officials were not aware of the extent of the problem. These are very serious problems and need to remedied for the next inaugural. The report recommends a number of changes to improve joint planning and the use of tunnels and roadways, and ensure high-level executive steering committee signoff of all such plans. Another important recommendation was to create a much better reporting system at the joint command center, along with a future integration of social network tools such as Facebook, Twitter and text messages from civilians to ensure more comprehensive awareness of problems as they develop in real time.
Attached is a copy of the executive summary of the multi-agency law enforcement report. The Secret Service has classified the full report as “law enforcement sensitive” and not for public release.