The Secret Service and the National Park Service unveiled the proposal today.
?? –A preliminary design concept for an improved White House fence was publicly submitted to the US Commission on Fine Arts on Thursday. The new design would extend the height of the fence from about 6 feet to over 11 feet.
The improved fence would also include new security features, such as sensors to detect potential intruders attempting to jump over it. The aim of the redesign is to make the fence “taller and stronger” with a sensitivity to historic preservation, according to the planners.
A series of fence jump incidents in 2014, including one in which a gunman was able to enter the White House residence, led to calls for a new fence.
It is “fully scalable,” he said. “We now have a company that tends to want to jump over the fence and go over the 18 acres,” Dougherty said of the White House compound.
Today was the first official presentation of the National Park Service and the Secret Service to the commission. Members of the commission shared their concerns and opinions on the design, such as the balance between ascetics, safety and a display of power, the lack of decorative elements at the bottom of the fence, and the displacement of trees.
“You see a progression, 3 feet high, 6 feet high. I’m glad I’m not here in 50 years when it’s 25 feet tall. At some point, it can’t be the same system,” said Alex, member of the commission. Krieger.
Dougherty said agencies will consider comments before the next phase of the proposal process.
“Our priority is to maintain public access and enjoyment of the residence because of the democratic connotations of it all,” he said. “It is, in fact, a premier First Amendment site.”
There are often demonstrations and marches in the park in front of the fence.
The proposal must be approved by this commission as well as by the National Capital Planning Commission.
The secret services also stressed that they were moving at relatively “lightning speed” for a government project.
“Our agency is under tremendous pressure to move forward and do whatever we can now,” said Dougherty.
Earlier this week, the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the secret service, issued a scathing notice report on the closing jump of September 2014 incident. Many details were already known from Congressional reviews and DHS reports, but the report concluded that, “although they may have contributed only indirectly to the events of that night, the resource and underlying and persistent management negatively affect the Uniformed Division and, potentially, its ability to protect the White House and its occupants. ”
“In particular, the uniformed division is sorely understaffed, which has resulted in inadequate training, fatigue, low morale and attrition,” the report said.
The report also says the Secret Service should continue to brief the Inspector General on his progress in replacing the existing fence and provide progress updates.
The Secret Service agreed with the report’s findings and said it was taking action to address the concerns.
“There is an ever-changing security environment that we are constantly accessing and, unfortunately, the world is changing so rapidly that it is difficult to control it,” Dougherty said during Thursday’s presentation.
The Secret Service said they hope to move forward with installing the improved fence in fiscal 2018.