Thousands of people crowded into Norlin Quad on Saturday, September second to hear President Obama speak. It was the second time in two weeks that the President had visited Colorado, one of the major swing states of the 2012 election. One of the President's main messages was to encourage CU students to register to vote. In fact, he even started a friendly competition to she which campus could register the most voters, CU or CSU. And while that was all very interesting, what was going on behind the scenes was quite fascinating too!
Bringing the President to town is a large undertaking. Many different security forces, including the Longmont, Broomfield, Jefferson County and Boulder police, joined together to make sure there was tip-top security for the President, as well as to manage the Obama-loving fans. To get into the Quad, you had to pass through a airport-style security tent, set up just for the event. Everywhere you looked, you could see law enforcement officers permeating the crowd of excited on-lookers. It's a small miracle (or maybe just an act of detailed planning) that the officers, as well as loyal volunteers, managed to heard all the Obama-fans into organized lines and then finally into the Quad.
In every possible nook and cranny you could think of, there was a law enforcement officer. There was police in the parking lots, police twisting through the serpentine line, police in the crowd. There was even a police officer assigned to guard a tunnel in the basement of Macky auditorium. Besides normal police officers, I even saw some SWAT team officers! Two or three members of the SWAT team were positioned in a tower above the crowd, in case anything bad were to happen.
According to CU campus police officer Rich Schwalm, security forces were not allowed much notice that the President headed their way.
"Luckily," Schwalm say "CU has hosted many of this type of event and they are very good at it!" Also, when the president is coming you have to be flexible. Due to the fact that Obama decided to stop by The Buff for a quick brunch, the speech started a half-hour later than expected. The secret service sent some agents ahead of time to scope out the area, map the route Obama would take, do background checks, and even send dog teams through the areas Obama would be visiting.
Security is a very important aspect of bringing the President to town, so we should be very proud of how well our police forces organized and secured the area where President Obama gave his inspiring speech!