There are new concerns about the D.C. Police Department’s special operations division and the security of its vehicles. A division made up of motorcycles and cruisers that escort the president of the United States and other dignitaries.
FOX 5 has learned the parking lot where they are kept is open to the public with no one guarding the gates.
FOX 5 found the motorcycles and cruisers that typically lead motorcades throughout the city now parked in lot four at RFK Stadium. They were moved there in November after the special operations division relocated from its old headquarters on l Street northwest.
Over the last six days a FOX 5 crew made several visits to the lot and was never challenged.
Including last Sunday where we found people tailgating before the D.C. United soccer game.
There were no D.C. Police officers keeping an eye on the half a dozen motorcycles and a fleet of police cruisers parked in the lot.
In fact, fans of the DC United, who arrived well before the start of the game, set up tents and fired up charcoal grills while their children kicked a ball around the lot.
There was no obvious security.
On three other visits to the lot, including Wednesday, we were never challenged and found every gate open.
For example, reporter Paul Wagner walked through the tunnel connecting lot seven with lot four and headed for the cruisers on the left hand side.
He found several that appeared to be unlocked.
All three gates were open and Wagner wasn’t challenged once.
"The fact we have these vehicles unsecured where anyone has access to them is indefensible”, said Fraternal Order of Police Chairman Kristopher Baumann, “and I know that there are already concerns coming out about that issue and this again goes to who is making these decisions, why aren't they being held accountable and what's it going to take? Is something awful going to have to happen before this department gets serious about doing its job?”
The special operations division uses its cruisers and motorcycles to not only lead presidential motorcades through the city but they are often used daily to escort foreign dignitaries.
When we asked D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier about the vehicles in the lot she issued a statement which reads in part: No vehicle is considered secure for a POTUS move…all vehicles used on those details are cleared immediately before use. We don't take anything for granted. No different than when we were at l Street.
But on l Street the building had a secure lot with a fence monitored by cameras.
The current S.O.D. commander, Steve Sund, also issued a statement, telling FOX 5: Mpd vehicles are often accessible to the public when they are on assignment, or parked at various locations throughout the city. These vehicles are swept prior to entering locations for security details.
Commander Sund also pointed out the relocation to RFK is temporary until the department finds a permanent place for its headquarters.
Four current and former D.C. Police officials familiar with the Special Operations Division all said the unsecured lot at RFK was a security concern.
We spoke to them on background because of the sensitivity of the issue.
We should also mention, when S.O.D. was at its headquarters on l Street not every vehicle was kept in the secure lot. Some were parked out on the street.