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Police & Fire

Port Authority police refuse Secret Service demand to disarm for Obama NJ visit

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

EXCLUSIVE REPORT: Port Authority police refused a demand by the U.S. Secret Service that they not carry their weapons at Newark Airport for a scheduled visit by President Obama this past week.

It became a moot point, for the time being, when Obama cancelled Wednesday’s visit in order to conduct a summit in Washington, D.C. on the ebola outbreak.

But the animosity has remained.

The Secret Service “demanded that members of the PAPD be disarmed in the exact location where the president is most vulnerable and in areas where the Secret Service are not trained or authorized to travel — namely, active ramps where Air Force One lands,” an authority officer from Bergen County told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.

“We refused and an enormous interagency battle has begun,” the officer said.

“I was involved with presidential movements with President Bush and we were NEVER asked to protect him while unarmed,” he added. “We will not surrender our weapons.”

“I will walk off my post and take a write-up before surrendering my weapon,” another authority officer said.

PAPD officers said the request was the first in at least three decades.

“A uniformed but visibly unarmed police officer is a prime target for physical assault or worse,” William J. Johnson, executive director and general counsel from the National Association of Police Organizations, Inc., wrote to Secret Service Acting Director Joseph P. Clancy.

“Given your years of service to this nation within the law enforcement community, I am sure that you appreciate the significant and unnecessary risk to the personal safety of these officers engendered by such a demand,” Johnson told Clancy. “This is particularly true in a dynamic and attention-getting environment such as the arrival of the president at a public airport.

“The risk to the public is also greatly increase[d]without reason by disarming the very men and women assigned to protect them, especially when those men and women are highly trained and experienced in the unique operational environment of an active international airport.”

The president had planned to attend a private fundraiser in Union County for Democratic U.S. Senate candidates.

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