Secret Service limits sidewalk access south of White House

Posted April 21, 2017

That section of the street has been off-limits from 11:00pm to 6:00am since 2015, but it did not open again Thursday morning once it was shut down for the night on Wednesday.

The Secret Service will begin permanently restricting access to the sidewalk on the South Fence of the White House beginning at 11 p.m. on April 19.

The Secret Service in recent years has gone through a series of embarrassing security lapses, including a 2014 incident in which a man jumped the White House fence with a small pocket knife and got inside the front door before being apprehended.

Access will be entirely closed off to the fence line along the south lawn of the presidential mansion as part of the strategy to stretch reaction time to those who attempt to jump the fence.

"The Secret Service must continually evaluate security protocols and continually balance the security of our protected persons and facilities with the public's ability to access them", said agency spokeswoman Cathy Milhoan. More highly symbolic First Amendment space is gone.

In March, an intruder scaled a fence east of the White House at night and was on the property's grounds for 16 minutes before being detained.

The blocking of the sidewalk will not obstruct the public's ability to view the White House and no additional "physical" barriers will be installed, according to the Reuters report. The Secret Service just put new restrictions in place to keep people further back.

"Restricting public access to the fence line will not only serve to lessen the possibility of individuals illegally accessing the White House grounds", Milhoan told WTOP radio station.

There's a plan for a significantly taller fence with "pencil point" anti-climb fixtures, but construction isn't slated to start until next year.

The goal is to create a buffer zone like the one at Pennsylvania Avenue.

INFOGRAPH from @USATODAY about the new security measures at The White House.