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Former Secret Service agent explains how agency leads all inauguration security efforts

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Posted at 6:03 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-20 06:40:01-05

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — ABC Action News is getting a first-hand look into how the Secret Service is making sure tomorrow’s inauguration is safe and secure.

A national special security event is what the government calls high-risk gatherings, like the inauguration. The Secret Service leads the security coordination and has been planning for eight months to make sure the inauguration goes without incident.

“It’s actually a very long few weeks for the Secret Service, but I guarantee you there isn’t an agent that’s going to get sleep over the next 24 hours,” said Jim Rathmann.

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Jim Rathmann, is a former Secret Service agent for President Barack Obama. He said they work with multiple government jurisdictions at the local, state and federal level to keep the 16 blocks between the Capitol and the White House secure.

“They’re going to have roads blocked off. We call them chokepoints. Basically, what that does is it funnels the crowd to a particular area you’re allowing them to go through. It’s where you're going to have magnetometers, you’re going to have various equipment out there that they can use. They can gauge and check that you don’t have weapons,” Rathmann said.

President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office in the same spot where the Capitol riots happened just weeks ago. There are 10 to 20,000 security personnel available, to help the Secret Service keep him, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their families safe.

“You have millions of people coming in for an inauguration and when you have all the tensions from each political side, it really raises the bar. They have to add all those additional military personnel,” said Rathmann.

He said the Secret Service trains for the worst possible scenario. Their mission is to protect the president at all costs.

“I know they’re working very diligently to cover everything. Every leaf is overturned they’re looking under every rock, everything is completely covered,” added Rathmann.