No security glitches

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By Dawn Schuett

Local residents who saw the president, his motorcade or Air Force One on Friday had the eyes of the Secret Service and law enforcement officers looking back at them.

Dozens of officers, in uniforms or plain clothes, provided security for the president at the airport, downtown and University Center Rochester. Security personnel also used metal detectors to screen those attending the president's speech, searched people's purses and bags by hand, and used dogs to check for explosives and be available for crowd control.

Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson said he didn't know exactly how many officers worked on the security detail for President Bush. Rochester police had assistance from other police and sheriff's departments in southeastern Minnesota and the Twin Cities.


Police also had help from Rochester city employees, including workers from the utilities, park and recreation and street departments, who blocked access to roads with heavy equipment to guard the motorcade route.

Peterson estimated the cost to local law enforcement departments would be $20,000 and $40,000.

"It had gone very well from a security standpoint," said Peterson, who spent the day at the University Center Rochester. "Altogether, it was a very well-run event."

Rochester Police Lt. John O'Neil was a member of the president's "advance party" security team. There didn't appear to be any problems with security during the day, he said.

Once Air Force One departs with the president safely on board, O'Neil said, there is a sense of satisfaction that things went well and that the president is on his way home.

Those who noticed the security precautions accepted them without complaint.

Diane LeClair of St. Charles took her two sons, Jim 13, and Tony, 10, to Rochester International Airport to see Air Force One.

All they saw was the tail of the plane. The FedEx building obstructed the rest of the aircraft.


LeClair said she understood why the public wasn't allowed to get closer, "but I just wish the airport had an upper level or they parked it somewhere so it was viewable to the public."

LeClair and her sons stood in sight of police and sheriff's squad cars. "I don't feel like eyes are watching over me," she said. If they were, she said, she didn't mind.

"He's the president of the United States," she said. "He just deserves all the security he has."

Cathy Breutzman of Rochester waited in her truck for more than half an hour along Airport View Drive Southwest for a chance to see the motorcade return to the airport. Before that, she spent 20 minutes waiting in another location and at least 15 minutes sitting in traffic.

Breutzman said she didn't want to get too close to the airport to be shooed away.

"I'll keep my distance and be respectful, but gawk a little at the same time," said Breutzman, whose husband, Brian, and daughter, Baihly, went to University Center Rochester to hear the president speak.

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