Diplomatic Security Leads Security at the Organization of American States
Diplomatic Security special agents Ben Wolf, Jerry Tavares, and Arron Ellenport escort Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim (center) to his plane as he departs the Organization of American State General Assembly on June 6, 2005.
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
U.S. Department of State
IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 10, 2005
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) served as the lead agency for security for the first meeting of the Organization of American States hosted by the United States in decades. Diplomatic Security was responsible for coordinating security for 1800 delegates using the resources of 26 federal, state, and local law enforcement for the three-day event held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, June 5-7.
Approached in September 2004, to coordinate security for the OAS general assembly, Edgar Moreno, special agent-in-charge for the Miami Field Office and lead agent coordinator for OAS security, began working with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to develop a security operation that would ensure the safety of the delegates due to arrive June 5, 2005, for the OAS meetings.
"There were unique security challenges we had to resolve for this event. We never rule out terrorism as a potential threat for large events, but probably the more immediate concern we had for this particular event was planning security for the possibility of thousands of demonstrators. We had to be prepared to protect the delegates as well as to maintain peace among the demonstrators," said Moreno.
Ensuring that delegates were able to meet in a secure environment required a security perimeter be established around the meeting center, the Broward County Convention Center. Entrance checkpoints were manned by local and state law enforcement, and permission was granted by the city of Ft. Lauderdale to close the street and bridge to the convention center to enable law enforcement to control access to the area around the convention center. The U.S. Coast Guard controlled water access to the convention center, and the air space surrounding the convention center was monitored by helicopters operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Patrol assets.
A designated area for demonstrators, the Free Speech Zone, was established outside the security perimeter, and permits for scheduled demonstrator parades were issued for Sunday, June 5, 2005. Approximately 50 "Venezuelan Somos Todos" demonstrators rallied in the Free Speech Zone between 9 a.m. and noon in support of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and United States policy toward Venezuela. The second demonstration was conducted by the "Alliance for Justice in the Americas (AJA)," beginning in the Free Speech Zone at 1 p.m. and concluding at 6 p.m. There were fewer than 300 AJA demonstrators.
"This was the first major national event in the United States post 9/11 that resulted in no arrests and no law enforcement officers injured. It was a tremendous effort by the 1500 law enforcement officers involved and they should be very proud of the results," said Moreno.
[Released by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Public Affairs]