Changes to White House Fence Proposed

Final Decision to be Made in May

Internal documents obtained by News 4 show a federal agency is expected to approve new, steel spikes atop the White House security fence in a meeting on Thursday.

The spikes are being considered by the National Park Service, which helps oversee the White House grounds, to reduce the risk of future gate jumpers.

The agency making the official decision is the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, one of two agencies with oversight of the White House fence. The other agency, the National Capital Planning Commission, is expected to approve the changes in a meeting on May 7.

News4’s Scott MacFarlane said the spikes on top of the fence will remain in place for at least a year, until a new permanent replacement fence is completed. They would be bolted on to the existing fence, according to the documents reviewed by the I-Team.

News 4 has also learned the National Park Service is considering raising the fence to 10 feet high or adding a second fence, placing one inside the current one. A permanent replacement fence is expected to be completed by the end of 2016 and would also likely include iron spikes.

The agency has ruled out other fence improvement a proposal, including the addition of a moat, an electrified fence rail or the stringing of barbed wire, News 4 has learned.

"I want to see those spikes to make sure they don't look so foreboding that people who visit the White House will figure they shouldn't be there," said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

Former U.S. Secret Service employee Dan Bongino said fence improvements have long been needed.

"It's clearly inadequate. It's too easy (to climb)," Bongino said. "We had a 40-year-old Iraq war veteran with bad knees make it into the East Room. If that's not a wake up call, I don't know what is. I think the Secret Service took that very seriously."

On September 19, 2014, Omar Gonzalez, a U.S. Army veteran, scaled the White House fence and was able to get into the executive mansion before being caught. He pleaded guilty in March to entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon and assaulting, resisting or impeding a Secret Service officer.

The Council of Fine Arts is expected to approve temporary changes to security posts along E St, adding extra and larger barricades.

NPS sent the I-Team the following statement Thursday evening:

"The United States Secret Service and National Park Service take the security of the White House grounds seriously and are working hand-in-hand to develop an appropriate barrier that will satisfy the individual missions of each agency, which include ensuring the security of the White House and its occupants while keeping the White House and grounds as accessible as possible to the public.

"We are working with our partners to develop, as quickly as possible, both interim and long-term solutions that meet today’s security needs while respecting the historic setting and significance of the White House. We have developed an effective interim solution for the White House fence consisting of a removable anti-climb feature that attaches to the existing fence.The interim solution enhances security without affecting the visitor’s experience. A timeline for installation is not yet available, but we are working expeditiously on this improvement."

The Secret Service and National Park Service declined to comment.

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