MANATEE -- Lt. Lorenzo Waiters of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office was somewhat excited when asked if he would like to join a local law enforcement detail going to Washington D.C., to protect President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden during the upcoming Inauguration.
"I jumped out of my shoes," Waiters said of the moment he was asked by Major Dennis Dummer of the sheriff's office.
"For me, I have done so much in my life, being all over the state on assignment and being in law enforcement for 32 years," Waiters said. "But this was different. I have never been near a sitting president. This was the opportunity to be part of history."
Waiters will join a group of 39 Manatee men and women, including 21 from the Bradenton Police Department, 15 from the sheriff's office and three from the Palmetto Police Department who will fly to Washington on Saturday, Jan. 19; have meetings and briefings on Sunday, Jan. 20; and join thousands of fellow law officers from around the nation on Monday, Jan. 21 for the Inauguration.
The invitation to participate was
received from the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police last year by Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski. "I reached out to MSO, Palmetto PD and others to join the detail," Radzilowski explained. The Manatee detail will be supervised by Bradenton Deputy Chief Keith Davis, he said.
Most speculate the Manatee delegation will be somewhere on the parade route along Pennsylvania Avenue on Jan. 21, said Detective Stephen Litschauer of the sheriff's office, who is helping Waiters since he attended Obama's first Inauguration four years ago.
"Last time we went we were stationed on the 1300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue," Litschauer said.
The Manatee delegation, who are asked to wear their regular uniforms, will fly home on Jan. 22.
The U.S. government is picking up the tab for the 39, Litschauer said.
The four-day trip took nearly a year to arrange.
Dressing for the event is a challenge.
"The last time I was there it was 17 degrees," Litschauer said.
"We are wondering about the temperatures," Waiters said Tuesday.
The men and women of the sheirff's office, for example, are issued sweaters, jackets and thermal underwear, but some have gone beyond that in their concern about sub-freezing temperatures while they are on duty.
"Some guys have purchased electric socks," Waiters said. "The only problem is that you have to wear a battery pack on your ankle."
Since all 39 will be carrying their service firearms, boarding their flight to Washington took months of preparation.
"We had to go through massive clearances," Litschauer said. "We had triple or quadruple security checks, We also had to have special training flying armed on an airplane."
The 39 will actually become deputy U.S. marshals for the two hours or so they are on the aircraft, Litschauer said.
"There are parade barricades along the curb by the sidewalk," Litschauer said when asked to describe the parade route. "Then, three-feet later, there is another set of metal parade barricades. Then, three-feet after that, there is a line of armed police officers touching hand-to-hand all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue. That is probably where our detail will be.
"Behind them is a line of supervisors and behind the supervisors are roaming military," Litschauer added. "The first line of police have to totally watch the crowd."
But the line of supervisors, which will include officials from Manatee, will turn their backs to the crowd and salute the president and vice president when they pass.
"That is the moment we will never forget," Waiters said.