Keeping the Pope Secure on U.S. Soil
It’s not every day the Pope shows up for a visit, but when he does arrive in the United States, security is in the front of everyone’s mind.
In what was described as an unprecedented security effort, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) was part of a massive detail during Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States.
For six days, the pope’s first visit to U.S. soil took him to Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia, where he visited the White House, U.S. Capitol, Madison Square Garden, Ground Zero, Independence Hall and several other stops in between. Millions of people lined the streets and filled venues just to get a glimpse on Pope Francis.
Prior to the pope’s arrival, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson designated the visit as a National Special Security Event (NSSE) which allowed for enhanced cooperation of local, state and federal partners in establishing a safe and secure environment. The security portion of the operation was coordinated by the Secret Service, who combined its resources with HSI and other agencies. The FBI was the lead agency collecting intelligence, so that in the event of a crisis, the FBI would manage the response.
“Our efforts during the recent papal visit illustrate HSI’s commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to secure our homeland against all outside threats,” said Peter T. Edge, HSI executive associate director. “Our agents were prepared to execute every assignment given to them, and they did so with a pride and dignity that represented our agency well.”
For months, the Secret Service, HSI and other law enforcement partners worked together to ensure the safety of everyone who traveled near and far to see and hear the pope. Meetings were held, subcommittees were created and assignments were handed out to ensure that the Holy Father’s movements took place without a hitch.