Under fire for a number of recent incidents where intruders scaled the fence around the White House — one man actually made it inside the executive mansion — the Secret Service has a solution in mind.
And the fix will only cost taxpayers $8 million.
According to The New York Times, the agency wants to build another White House — not to fool intruders into storming the wrong building, but to use for training.
“Right now, we train on a parking lot, basically,” Director Joseph Clancy told Congress on Tuesday. “We put up a makeshift fence and walk off the distance between the fence at the White House and the actual house itself. We don’t have the bushes, we don’t have the fountains, we don’t get a realistic look at the White House.”
Clancy appeared before the House Appropriations Committee to request the funding to build a detailed replica of the White House in Beltsville, Md., 20 miles from the real White House, The Times reported.
“It’s important to have a true replica of what the White House is so we can do a better job of this integrated training between our uniform division officers, our agents and our tactical teams,” Clancy told lawmakers.
He added that the objective is to provide a “more realistic environment, conducive to scenario-based training exercises.”
After the September incident when a fence-jumper made it all the way into the East Room before being apprehended, Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, commissioned a crack team of security experts — who recommended building a higher fence.
But they also suggested more training time “in conditions that replicate the physical environment in which they will operate,” saying the problems “go deeper than a new fence can fix.”
The Times said it is not clear whether the structure would be a full-scale replica of all sides of the White House, but given a recent incident where drunken agents crashed a government car into a security gate while returning to the White House after a night out drinking, it would be helpful if the mock-up included access points.
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