Nearly 2,000 Transportation Security Administration employees are part of a multi-agency effort, to provide security as Pope Francis begins his first visit to the United States from September 22 to 29.
A record number of officers from more than 70 airports across the nation are deployed to assist with screening operations in Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia. TSA assets include transportation security officers, behavior detection officers, explosive detection experts and visible intermodal prevention and response teams, which are specialized units deployed during periods of heightened threat or at special events.
TSA officers are assisting the U.S. Secret Service with security during the Pope’s five-day tour, which will include appearances at the White House, a parade on Constitution Avenue in Washington D.C., a mass at Madison Square Garden, a procession through Central Park in New York City, and an open air mass with an expected crowd of 1.5 million people in Philadelphia.
“Large national security events are fluid, dynamic and always involve change,” said TSA National Deployment Office Area Coordinator Richard Nevels. “One of the things we say is ‘Mission first, people always, one team, one fight.’ And it can never be truer than for the 2015 Papal Visit.”
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson designated Pope Francis’ stops in each city a National Special Security Event, a designation that had previously been used for presidential inaugurations, State of the Union addresses, political conventions, NATO summits, the 2002 Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl.
“We know of no specific, credible threat directed at the Pope’s visit,” said Johnson during a press conference Sept. 18 in Philadelphia. “So we fully anticipate a successful and safe visit for the Pope and the public and encourage people to celebrate here in the city (Philadelphia), during the Pope’s visit.”
Read about DHS support efforts for the Papal visit.