Obama's L.A. Security Is Tight but Not Unusual, Experts Say
Pete Souza for the White House
President Obama's latest visit to Los Angeles has been enveloped in extremely tight security.
On Saturday, two days before his arrival, multiple military helicopters conducted exercises over our skies. When he arrived in Marine One Monday night, the helicopter flew fast and low to its destination on the Westside.
And there's more:
His motorcade on the ground featured multiple armored Chevrolet Suburban SUVs -- a chain of vehicles so similar that it was seemingly impossible to tell which one carried the President.
And before he headed into Beverly Hills for fundraisers, at least one neighborhood was shut down. A neighbor who had experienced presidential visits in the area before complained that her place was closed off -- with yellow tape over her own garage.
She called that a first.
Military choppers patrolled the skies of the Westside last night, as there was a no-fly rule over much of the area.
Wheels turning, we called up two former presidential Secret Service agents to ask if they thought these observations amounted to an unusually vigilant security bubble around the President.
The answer was, unequivocally, No.
Larry Rowlett, CEO of Presidential Security & Training Services, worked during President Reagan's tenure. He told us things have changed a lot, but nothing we described seemed out of the ordinary to him.
The helicopter exercises, he said, were normal.
Flying fast and low? J.A. LaSorsa of J.A. LaSorsa & Associates, who also worked during Reagan's years in the White House, says, "Not unusual."
The lack of the presidential Cadillac limousine could be explained by the difficulty shipping it from another city in time for Obama's visit, Rowlett said.
Lo and behold, the photo at the top of this story, from the president's trip Sunday to Seattle, shows the Cadillac limo there.
Shutting down a neighborhood? Choppers patrolling the skies? Again, neither expert was surprised.
Rowlett says presidential security has been ratcheted up from a Secret Service detail of about 75 to 250 agents today. "That just tells you how times have changed," he said.
Things have progressively gotten tighter and tighter, and this L.A. trip, which will see the President depart this afternoon, is simply a normal part of that evolution, the former agents told us.
Essentially, when I was on Reagan's detail five years after he was shot, it was night and day [compared to] what was done prior. Every time there's an incident and more intel, things get tighter. They're probably tighter than ever. But this is not unusual given this President and these times.
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