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KSP troopers helped with inaugural security detail

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Post 5’s Jim Mitchell was among those on hand

By Cindy DiFazio

Staff writer/photographer

Kentucky State Trooper Jim Mitchell said he was glad to make the 574 mile trek to last week’s inaugural to provide security for the new president even though their politics clash.

“I definitely volunteered,” he said.

Mitchell, a registered Republican, said he and wife, Tanya enjoyed spirited discussion throughout the campaign.

Tanya Mitchell teaches Social Studies at Eminence Independent Schools and grew to like Obama and his wife, Michelle. “It was the big talk,” he said, “about a new era and the first black president. I was jumping back and forth.” Mitchell said he eventually found himself outnumbered at home when mom won over sons Justin, 11 and Brandon, 13. “It was a battle on the homefront. she had all these facts,” he said. “She really studies politics.” Mitchell said five-year old daughter Rylee remained neutral until dad left for Washington. “She really hated dad being gone,” he said.

Kentucky was represented at the event by two officers from each of the 16 Kentucky State Police posts. Officer Mitchell and Detective Todd Harwood were picked by Lieutenant Chad White and Captain Dean Hayes from Campbellsburg Post 5. “I was proud to be chosen to represent the Campbellsburg post,” Mitchell said. “It was an honor to attend.”

He said Harwood was unable to go due to an obligation to testify locally at a trial. “I know it just killed him to not get to go,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell, who lives between Eminence and Smithfield, said the adventure began in Frankfort where he joined other regional officers. “From there we jumped in Tahoes and met the Eastern Kentucky people in Ashland and convoyed to Baltimore,” he said.

Mitchell said the drive was harrowing with ice and snow resulting in multiple accidents and snarled traffic.

After arriving at the Hyatt Place Hotel late Sunday night, KSP troopers barely had time to grab a bite to eat and get a few hours of sleep. They left the warmth of their beds at 3 a.m. Monday morning to be sworn in as Washington, D.C., police officers.

A briefing on the special nature of their assignment followed. “We were told to look for suspicious people, vehicles and packages,” he said.

The troopers were assigned to a good position close to the capitol along the Third Street parade route, but when they arrived, their vehicles were swallowed up by the crowds. “We ended up touching bumper to bumper in a crowd of thousands,” he said.

The crowd was packed so tightly that though people tried to move out of the way of the police vehicles there was nowhere to go. “They were face to face in the car windows and climbing over the vehicles,” he said. The officers, except for the drivers, exited the vehicles in an attempt to move folks out of the way. “The crowd moved back inch by inch,” he said. “They were screaming ‘Kentucky, Kentucky.’ They just wanted to continue moving.” Finally the mounted police moved in and were able to unclog the bottleneck.

Weather played a big role in the comfort level of the assignment. “It was cold. I wore two thermal shirts, thermal pants, insulated boots and winter hoodie and ear muffs,” he said. “We still froze. It was flat miserable.”

The troopers had to face the crowd for the duration of the parade so couldn’t see the floats and bands. However, the officers found themselves in a unique position to interact with parade-goers. “It was so cold we were passing out handwarmers to the kids,” he said. “The crowd was fantastic.”

Returning to the hotel around seven in the evening, Mitchell said the group was exhausted. “We were beat. I didn’t even eat,” he said. “I had a snack I’d brought with me and fell asleep sitting up.”

Mitchell said it was a good time although a long detail. “It had a lot of meaning,” he said. “I would definitely do it again.”

 

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