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Birmingham agents to work inauguration

BIRMINGHAM — Several Birmingham-based U.S. Secret Service agents have been chosen to be a part of a security force for the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

Although the assignment may sound prestigious, Special Agent in Charge Roy Sexton said inauguration duty will mean “long, cold, tiresome days.”

“It’s most definitely a challenge, but we enjoy the challenge,” Sexton added.

Sexton said Birmingham agents have been attending training and planning meetings.

Sexton would not say how many Birmingham-based agents would be going to Washington or what their assignments would be.

The entire National Mall will be open for the first time because of the large crowd expected for the inauguration.

Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the Secret Service in Washington, said the area usually reserved for staging will be opened to accommodate the crowd.

Wiley said 60 agencies are involved in providing security.

More than 100 square blocks of Washington will be blocked off, and about 5,000 military personnel from all service branches are expected at the inauguration. Twenty-three steering committees have been formed.

“We have a steering committee for the parade route, one for air space, credential, Capitol, intelligence and civil disturbance, to name a few,” Wiley said.