Wanted: New, 'Politically Correct' White House Fence

But competing agencies are slowing down the project
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2015 3:15 PM CDT
White House Needs New Fence, But It's Not Easy
A Secret Service police officer keeps an eye on visitors on the sidewalk in front of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014.    (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Think the White House needs a fence that's less amenable to jumpers? So does the Secret Service, which has had agents hurtling themselves at fences for months to see which is hardest to climb over, the New York Times reports. But the main issue holding up a better fence is that a dozen or more organizations and government agencies have competing needs. "Do you want it to look like a fortress?" asks the secretary of the United States Commission of Fine Arts. "How can we accommodate what we deem to be necessary protections without spoiling the civic experience?" The National Park Service actually controls the fence, while the Metropolitan Police Department, US Treasury, and US General Services Administration are also involved.

For its part, the Secret Service needs a fence that delays intruders long enough to sic the dogs on them, but politically incorrect elements like protuberances and sharp edges aren't being considered. And a higher fence won't help, they've learned, because it only gives jumpers better grip. The Secret Service also wants an $8 million full-scale White House replica to train agents for future attacks. Meanwhile, the White House has more uniformed guards on duty and a brand new front door lock. But one idea suggested by many citizens—a moat—won't be undertaken: "When I hear moat, I think medieval times," says a Secret Service official. Earlier this month, White House fence jumper Omar Gonzalez pleaded guilty to two counts for breaking into the presidential grounds and entering the White House itself, CNN reports. (More White House stories.)

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