Selma PD ready for vice president visit

Published 10:49pm Thursday, February 28, 2013

A little more than three weeks ago, Selma Chief of Police William T. Riley already knew he was looking ahead at a busy Bridge Crossing Jubilee weekend. It’s something he and his department plan for every year, bringing in additional staffing, evaluating traffic conditions and ensuring the safety of dignitaries from throughout the region and nation.

That was three weeks ago, just about the time he learned that the second highest ranking official in the United States government — the world for that matter — the Vice President of the United States would be taking part in many of the Jubilee events scheduled for Sunday.

While most people would have looked at their plans and gone back to square one, Riley said working with the advance planning teams of the Secret Service and welcoming the vice president to town Sunday isn’t too much.

“Not really,” Riley said when asked if his department has had to revise their security plans in advance of Biden’s visit. “We were already planning to have the Jubilee. We already knew we had the congressional delegation that was coming down. And, of course, the only difference beyond that would have been someone coming from the White House. Now that we know it’s the vice president, it’s just a matter of working with the Secret Service to find out what they need from us, and how we can help.”

Riley added that the work put in place already and the tremendous cooperation between the many agencies involved has made the days leading up to the start of Jubilee pretty smooth.

“The vice president brings with him a huge contingency already, so we are just doing some small tweaking to work into their plans — what they need,” Riley said. “This just adds a small wrinkle, not a big wrinkle, just a small wrinkle really to a weekend that is already quite busy.”

Riley said his department is increasing patrols in Selma in the days leading up to Jubilee as thousands of guests will begin to arrive. Sunday’s festivities are expected to bring more than 20,000 to downtown Selma with some projections far higher than that.

“All of our people will be working. Every available person will be working,” Riley said. “[The vice president] has his own force with him and that helps out a lot. And, the Sheriff’s Department, the State Troopers and others, they are all assisting, so it really isn’t as much, or as bad, as you might believe.

“We are going to have a large contingency of law enforcement in Selma to say the very least.”

Selma residents, who have already seen members of the advance Secret Service teams evaluating locations throughout Selma, as well as additional law enforcement officials, will begin to see equipment moving into the area Friday.

The city parking lot between Broad Street and Washington Street, near the Selma Interpretive Center, will be closed Friday, allowing for a space for many law enforcement vehicles and mobile headquarter facilities to be set up.

Police officials, as well as those officials with the Jubilee, are expected to release a list of road closures for the weekend and a revised schedule of Sunday events sometime Friday.

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