Metro police won’t provide security for First Lady’s upcoming visit

Metro police won't provide security for First Lady's upcoming visit (Image 1)

Metro police will not provide security for First Lady Michelle Obama's upcoming visit to Nashville.

Nashville's News 2 Investigates has learned that law enforcement from many agencies met Tuesday morning to discuss security for the First Lady's weekend visit to Nashville, however the Metro Nashville Police Department was not invited to the intelligence meeting.

The First Lady is scheduled to be in Nashville on Saturday to speak to graduating seniors of Martin Luther King Junior Magnet School at the Gentry Center on Tennessee State University's campus.

In the past, the security detail was comprised of numerous agencies, including the United States Secret Service and Metro police, however Nashville's News 2 Investigates has learned the Secret Service will not be working with Metro police for this high level visit.

A high ranking official out of Washington D.C. sent reporter Andy Cordan an email Tuesday afternoon that read:

“The Secret Service will not require assistance from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department during the upcoming First Lady visit on 5/18/13. Other law enforcement resources will be utilized during the visit. There will be no compromise in the security arrangements for this visit because of these logistics.”

Sources told Nashville's News 2 Investigates the Secret Service requested several security measures that the Metro Police Department would not agree to.

According to the sources, one of the items requested by the Secret Service for the weekend visit was a lights and sirens motorcade, which the department was not willing to sanction.

Officials added the security of the president and the vice president is handled differently than security for the First Lady.

The Metro Police Department released a statement Tuesday night regarding the First Lady's visit.

The statement reads: “The Nashville Police Department firmly believes that it had developed a plan, part of which would have utilized a rolling roadblock and the stationing of officers along the North Nashville motorcade route, which would have absolutely protected Mrs. Obama, while at the same time, causing minimal inconvenience to other motorists and citizens.”

It goes on to say that Chief Steve Anderson urged the Secret Service to “carefully reconsider” their cancellation of their request for assistance.

Sources at Metro police say this move is “unprecedented”.

High ranking sources in Washington D.C. say this is a very unusual situation for the Secret Service.

The riff between the two major policing agencies has raised some serious questions, such as if the Secret Service has every done this before in a major U.S. city and if it will jeopardize the First Lady's safety.

On record, Washington D.C. officials would only say, “The Secret Service is focused on the protective mission at hand and is not going to comment further on this situation.”

A source at the secret service said, “We travel all around the world. We work extensively in the United States. We are well known for partnerships and flexibility. This is a very unusual situation for us. We respect the Metro Nashville Police Department, but it is a business decision.”

According to another source within the police department, no one from Secret Service has responded to the police chief's request to reconsider their cancellation for protection.

The source also said that the chief clearly stated the Secret Service would be in charge, and that the two agencies would work together as a team, while at the same time making it clear that no member of the Nashville police department would be taking orders directly from the secret service, meaning Metro officers would follow the chain of command.

When asked about the “riff” today, Mayor Karl Dean said he would not comment until he spoke with the police chief.

Metro police maintains that they stand ready to provide any support necessary.

They have designated all officers previously tasked with motorcade assignment to be present and visible at the Gentry Center where the graduation will take place, on top of the officers already assigned to be there.

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