MontCo Law Enforcement Coordinates for Obama Visit
County, local police work to provide security with Secret Service.
When most people think of security for the President of the United States, they think of the Secret Service or CIA. But when President Barack Obama visited Hatfield Friday morning, law enforcement professionals from throughout the county were tasked with providing protection.
"When the President comes to a local municipality, they reach out to whoever the head of the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction is and start making plans," Montgomery County Sheriff Eileen Behr said. "They also reach out to the county, and start identifying security and law enforcement that can assist in securing the location."
In this case, Behr said that the Secret Service and FBI likely coordinated with Hatfield Police Chief Mark Toomey, who would then organize support from surrounding police departments. Often times, Behr said, specialized teams already assembled for prior incidents are utilized.
"We are very fortunate in Montgomery County to have a Chiefs of Police organization that is very strong," Behr said. "We have preplanned teams prepared for whatever situation arises. In cases such as with the President, officers from throughout the county are going to be assisting in different capacities."
Behr said the county provided a bomb squad to standby during Obama's visit, and also ensured volunteer medical and fire personnel were fully staffed and prepared to respond in the event of an incident.
John Corcoran, Deputy Director of Public Safety for the county, said a mobile command unit was also provided.
"We have three mobile command centers that law enforcement teams can use, and we actually have dispatchers who go out with the unit and coordinate things," Corcoran said, adding that a hazmat team was also on standby.
During the actual event, several Chinook helicopters escorted Marine One from the Philadelphia airport to its landing at a factory in Hatfield. Police patrolled and created a perimeter around the immediate area. Patch contacted the Hatfield Police Department after the conclusion of the event to ascertain just how many officers were provided by surrounding police departments, but did not receive an immediate response.
Behr said that while departments were not compensated for overtime payment, that such a visit is something the law enforcement community takes pride in securing.
"It's typical for law enforcement to have days where resources are committed to events beyond regular duty, and it's an honor to have a President come and visit," Behr said.