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President Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address tonight. The event has been designated as a National Special Security Event (NSSE), the 10th address on Capitol Hill to receive the designation. Overall, this event is the 37th to be named a NSSE since the designation was established in 1998.
A number of factors are taken into consideration when designating an event as a National Special Security Event – including a few outlined below:
- Anticipated attendance by dignitaries - Events which are attended by officials of the United States Government and/or foreign dignitaries also may create a federal interest in ensuring that the event transpires without incident and that sufficient resources are brought to bear in the event of an incident.
- Size of the event - A large number of attendees and participants generally increases the security requirements.
- Significance of the event - Some events have historical, political and/or symbolic significance and generate significant attention.
When an event is designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security as a NSSE, the U.S. Secret Service assumes its mandated role as the lead agency for the design and implementation of the operational security plan.
With the State of the Union address, as with all major events in the Washington, D.C. area, the Secret Service calls upon established relationships with experienced counterparts to develop and implement a seamless security plan that will create a safe and secure environment for all involved. The Secret Service has always relied heavily on the assistance received from local and federal law enforcement/public safety partners and the military for NSSEs.
A number of DHS components are also assisting in planning and security for the State of the Union, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration. Other partner agencies include:
- U.S. Capitol Police
- Metropolitan Police Department
- U.S. Park Police
- D.C. Office of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty
- D.C. Department of Transportation
- D.C. Department of Public Works
- D.C. Fire and EMS
- Fairfax County Government
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia
- Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region
- National Park Service
- Federal Aviation Administration
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services