U.S. News


How To Keep Intruders Off The White House Lawn

Over the weekend, a man jumped the White House fence and made it in the front doors before being apprehended by security.
Posted at 1:22 PM, Sep 22, 2014

You've already heard two intruders scaled this fence and made their way onto the White House lawn this month, one even making it through the White House doors.  

President Obama wasn't home either time, but here's how the Secret Service might make sure that's not going to happen again.

According to The Wall Street Journal, that fence is 9 feet high, sits on a stone-and-concrete base and has decorative spikes at the top. A former Secret Service agent told CNN one way to help is to curve the top. 

"Even if it's something as simple as curving the bars over towards the street side, the Pennsylvania Avenue side, which would make it harder to scale. Remember: Time buys you options. Right now, they don't have time. You scale the fence, you're almost right at the door."

Officials say they didn't shoot the man because he appeared to be unarmed. Still, it was the first time any lawn jumper has made it through the White House doors, which — as you just heard — is easy if you can just get over the fence.  

We've since learned the man carried a 3-inch-long knife and has post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in the military. Many outlets report that a majority of lawn jumpers have turned out to have a mental disorder, something officials hope to identify with a possible new security measure. 

"A law enforcement official tells me the Secret Service is considering setting up checkpoints for tourists blocks away from the White House. That would be an unprecedented change here."

One unidentified official told The New York Times that would involve bag checks and interaction with people so security personnel could possibly screen those who could potentially cause issues. But — and here's how we know it might take a little while to see any changes — that official added: 

"Changes to the security around the White House are often complicated because the United States Parks Police, the White House Historical Association, the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia and the Secret Service all have to coordinate the effort."

Ah, bureaucracy. Despite all this discussion of new ideas, it's unclear when or if changes will actually happen. Officials are investigating the incident, and the White House released a statement shortly after it, saying the president has "full confidence in the Secret Service."

This video includes images from Getty Images.