In the weeks leading up to the Civil Rights Summit, city and campus police have worked closely with each other and the Secret Service to plan security procedures for every moment of the presidents’ trip to UT.
The summit, which will be held in the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium, will feature 46 panelists and speeches by Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush.
Bob Harkins, who serves as associate vice president for campus safety and security, said security preparation began immediately after the event was announced about a month ago.
“It’s the type of thing where you always say, ‘I wish we’d had more time,’” Harkins said. “But you do what you’ve got to do in the time limits you’re given.”
Harkins said UTPD will use all available resources over the course of the three-day summit.
“We’ve got to cover the entire event for three days, so everyone is participating,” Harkins said. “Other law enforcement agencies around, for example the Capitol Police Department and DPS, will help us with traffic control.”
The Secret Service met with University and LBJ Library officials and will be coordinating up until the start of the summit, according to Harkins.
“Between the University of Texas personnel and the LBJ Library, there are maybe 35 to 40 people involved in various aspects of the planning and preparation, and that’ll go almost up to the last minute,” Harkins said.
APD Sgt. Jeff Crawford said working with the Secret Service requires extra flexibility from law enforcement.
“Up until a week or two out, we may not even know what the route will be because, as you can imagine with the White House, things change daily,” Crawford said. “We’ve literally had it where they’re putting the president in the car to go to the next stop, and we get an ‘OK, route’s changing. We’re going to this location,’ and we’re having to scramble and adjust and go to a whole new location that we may not have been planning on. We have to be very adaptable.”
Crawford said, while APD will be involved in the overall security coverage for the summit, UTPD will handle most of the security surrounding the LBJ Library.
“We coordinate with UTPD and basically have a division of labor, and say ‘OK, here’s what you’re going to handle, and here’s what we’re going to handle,’” Crawford said. “That way we’re not duplicating efforts and everybody’s got their area to deal with. UTPD handles security at any venue on UT grounds, and we usually handle the route or deal with the motorcade getting him from point A to point B.”
Crawford said that, ultimately, most of the decisions pertaining to security are made by the Secret Service.
“In the end, all of us are supplementing the Secret Service,” Crawford said. “It’s kind of their show. They make the majority of the calls, but we have a good working relationship with them and they work really well with us.”