New White House security restrictions in place after series of fence-jumping incidents

New White House security restrictions in place after series of fence-jumping incidents (John Gonzalez/ABC7)

On Wednesday, the U.S. Secret Service announced security changes that will keep the public further back from the White House on the south end of the property.

The sidewalk next to the fence that borders the South Lawn is now closed. Visitors will now have to stay behind a concrete barrier that is on the south side of E Street NW (a street that is not open to regular traffic).

“This restriction is part of the ongoing comprehensive review of temporary and permanent security measures at the White House complex,” said a statement from the Secret Service.

In that statement, the Secret Service indicated that stopping fence jumpers was a big part of the reason it is now keeping people further back.

Over the last several years – during both the Obama and now Trump administrations – fence jumpers have become a big problem at the White House.

In September 2014, Omar Gonzalez even made it all the way inside the White House, and in March another fence jumper spent 17 minutes on the White House grounds while President Trump was inside the mansion.

In the statement sent by the Secret Service, Communications Director Cathy Milhoan is quoted as saying the new restrictions “create a clear visual break to enable Secret Service officers to identify and respond to potential hazards including individuals attempting to scale the fence.”

Visitors outside the south end of the White House Wednesday said although they understand the reason for the move, they wish things could stay the way they were.

“For us being the people, and this being our house, I think we should be able to get as close as possible,” said Michelle Crawford, who was visiting from Mississippi.

Although the Secret Service says “these restrictions will not obstruct or hinder the public's ability to view or photograph the White House and its grounds,” some we talked with didn’t agree.

“Now when we’re trying to take a picture you’re getting this rusted, concrete barrier in front of you and trying to crop it out of your shot,” said Jason McCartney, who was visiting with his wife and baby from Philadelphia.

ABC7 asked the Secret Service if the change was permanent. A spokesperson said he couldn’t answer “for security reasons.”

The Secret Service says the changes on the south end of the White House are “in alignment” with security measures already in place on the north end.

On that side, barriers have been put up to create a buffer zone between the fence and the public.

More changes are scheduled to come next year, when construction is scheduled to start on a taller, more secure fence around the White House.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off