The U.S. Secret Service plans to raise the height of the White House security fence by 5 feet and add a new concrete foundation to reduce the risk of fence-jumpers, according to a copy of an agency report obtained by the News4 I-Team.
The agency, along with the National Park Service, said it intends to begin building a “taller, stronger” fence to protect the White House grounds by 2018.
Details of the plan were included in an audio recording of a briefing made by federal officials, which was released to the I-Team Wednesday. The same briefing is expected to be presented May 5 at a meeting of the National Capital Planning Commission, which must first approve any changes to White House fencing.
“The current fence simply is not adequate for a modern era. We’ve said that before. It is becoming more and more acutely clear that that is in fact the case,” Secret Service official Tom Dougherty said in the briefing to federal officials.
“(The fence) is entirely scale-able, depending upon the circumstances. And we have now a society that tends to want to jump over the fence and onto the 18 acres,” Daugherty said in the briefing.
According to the Secret Service briefing, the agency’s plans would raise the current 6-foot-tall fence to 11 feet. A new concrete “footing” and “foundation” for the fence are also planned.
Secret Service and National Park Service plans for the new fence would also include “anti-climb features” to deter fence jumpers. Small spikes, which officials call “pencil points,” were added to the current fence in 2015 after a series of jumpers leapt the fence on to White House grounds.
The plans for the new White House fence would include 1¾-inch pickets and taller gates near entrances to the grounds.
U.S. House and Senate leaders were briefed by the Secret Service on the possible fence changes in mid-April, News4 learned.
The National Park Service is also participating in the planning for the fence changes.
“There are still several additional steps before construction could begin on a new fence, and a timeline is not concrete,” the agency said in a statement.