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Florida police, National Guard prepare for ‘most secure inauguration ever’

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are scheduled to be officially confirmed as president and vice president in a ceremony beginning at noon Wednesday.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are scheduled to be officially confirmed as president and vice president in a ceremony beginning at noon Wednesday.

TALLAHASSEE – Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are scheduled to be officially confirmed as president and vice president in a ceremony beginning at noon Wednesday.

In addition to the pandemic, the FBI is warning of credible threats and armed protests in Washington D.C. and at every state capitol across the U.S.

Security is a big concern after the deadly Jan. 6 breach at the U.S. Capitol.

Right now, FBI Jacksonville agents are tracking down tips and monitoring threats, just like their counterparts across the country, said spokeswoman Amanda Videll. And they’re just one of many groups protecting the nation before a big and controversial day.

News4Jax spotted police from several agencies on the lookout on top of government buildings in Tallahassee on Sunday and Monday while the National Guard was on standby.

In D.C., 25,000 Guard members are backing up thousands of police officers; approximately 600 soldiers and airmen are from Florida.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are scheduled to be officially confirmed as president and vice president in a ceremony beginning at noon Wednesday.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are scheduled to be officially confirmed as president and vice president in a ceremony beginning at noon Wednesday.

Police officers from Florida agencies like the Miami Beach Police Department are also traveling to the capital to provide support.

“This will be the most secure election inauguration ever,” said Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, who now teaches at the University of North Florida. “It’s gonna be like a war zone.”

Soderberg is an American foreign policy strategist who held several senior level positions in the Clinton administration. She’s been to four inaugurations, and she says although safety is always a concern, she’s never noticed as many threats as this time.

“January 20th should be a celebration of American democracy. What we are as Americans is majority rule, and mob violence has no place in our society. And that too will be part of the message on January 20th,” Soderbeg said.

Christopher Miller, the acting secretary of defense, said the Department of Defense will vet the military members guarding the event too.

“While we have no intelligence indicating an insider threat, we are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital,” Miller said in a written statement to reporters.

The Secret Service released a map showing the streets they will block off in Washington on Wednesday. It’s the majority of downtown Washington D.C.

D.C. closures

“I think they learned [with] regards to the Capitol uprising and they put in extra measures to prevent it,” said News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson.

He believes that with so much tension and threats, law enforcement will spare no expense.

“That’s the plan, to deter with that presence,” he said.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said he’s not aware of any direct threats to the Northeast Florida area, but his officers are monitoring the situation.


About the Authors:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 9 a.m. weekday newscast and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights, reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.