With the death of Osama bin Laden, local leaders are reminding everyone in the Washington area to remain vigilant.
Bin Laden was killed Sunday in his hideout in Pakistan during a firefight with American forces. President Barack Obama announced his death to the nation a short time later.
Once word got out, crowds of people gathered at the White House. They were waving American flags, chanting and singing the National Anthem. Typically any rally or protest is not allowed on White House grounds without a permit. However, police officers let the peaceful protests continue.
“This is a high security environment, so even though there are a lot of very happy people here celebrating we have to make everybody’s safe and keep our guard up,” D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier told NBC Washington.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray thanked Obama and members of the national security team, and reminded residents to stay alert.
"And while the operation will not erase the pain nor diminish the threat of terror, I hope that this service of justice brings some comfort to the families and friends of loved ones lost on September 11, 2001," Gray said in a release. "I salute the courageous men and women of the United States armed forces and members of the intelligence community for their dedication and steadfast commitment to the fight against terrorism worldwide.
"We will continue to work in coordination with our federal partners to ensure that appropriate protective measures are being taken to ensure our ongoing readiness and safety. District residents are reminded to remain vigilant at all times.”
Meanwhile, members of Maryland's congressional delegation are praising the raid that killed bin Laden, but say the country must remain on high alert.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski said that bin Laden's death marks "a historic day for our country." She added, however, that "the hateful ideology he espouses will persist" and that "terrorists will continue to harbor predatory intent toward the United States."
Sen. Ben Cardin called bin Laden's death "an important milestone in the fight against terrorism." He also cautioned that the country "must remain vigilant in the continued fight against al-Qaeda and any terrorists who seek to harm our nation."
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley released the following statement: “This closes a sad and tragic chapter in our country and our world’s history. Commend the men and women of our Armed Forces and the dedicated public servants of our nation’s security agencies. This should be a day of reflection and prayer for a more peaceful future.”