Following accusations that the Secret Service is failing in its duty to provide security and protection for the president of the United States of America, the Secret Service chief has requested $8 million from U.S. lawmakers to build a replica of the White House in Beltsville, Maryland to be used as a training facility for officers and agents.
According to the New York Times, while appearing before the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday, Joseph P. Clancy, the Secret Service Director, asked lawmakers to approve funds to construct a replica of the White House to aid in the training of security agents who provide protection for the president, his family and White House staff.
Beltsville is only about 20 miles from the real White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It is the location of a large training facility for Secret Service operatives.
Clancy told the committee that at the moment, Secret Service personnel have to make do with “rudimentary, not-to-scale simulation of the north grounds of the White House.” He recommended the building of a “true replica of the White House” to provide improved training program for “our uniform division officers, our agents and our tactical teams.”
According to Clancy, a full-scale replica of the White House would provide a “more realistic environment, conducive to scenario-based training exercises.”
“Right now, we train on a parking lot, basically. We put up a makeshift fence and walk off the distance between the fence at the White House and the actual house itself. We don’t have the bushes, we don’t have the fountains, we don’t get a realistic look at the White House.”
Clancy added, “Even our K-9s, they’re responding on hard surfaces rather than grass.”
Clancy also requested for funds to refurbish a “live-fire shoot house” and a “tactical village” facility that replicates the environment of the White House.
The New York Times notes that while the proposed replica would simulate the facade of the White House, the “East and West Wings, guards booths and the surrounding grounds and roads,” it is uncertain the extent to which the structure would faithfully reproduce all the sides of the real White House.
The request comes after a series of alarming breaches of White House security, which drew attention to the inadequacies of security provisions. Last September, an intruder scaled the White House fence and was intercepted by Secret Service officers only after he had reached the East Room.
The incident caused an uproar that forced the resignation of the former Secret Service Director Julia Pierson in October and inquiries into how to strengthen security at the residence of the president and his team.
Although, a panel of inquiry constituted by Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, recommended raising the White House fence, it admitted that the “problems exposed by recent events go deeper than a new fence can fix.”
Clancy’s request to U.S. lawmakers for funds to build a replica of the White House for training purposes came after the panel recommended that the Secret Service invest more time and resources in training its officers and to consider training them under “in conditions that replicate the physical environment in which they will operate.”
Clancy also testified about the incident on March 4 in which drunken Secret Service agents drove into White House security fence.
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