WASHINGTON — The U.S. Secret Service says it has permanently restricted public access to a sidewalk and adjoining areas south of the White House to make it more difficult for people to jump the fence in the latest attempt by the agency to tighten security and deter potential intruders.
The changes were put into effect late Wednesday and follow the arrest last month of a California man who climbed over a fence in that area of the White House and was able to roam the grounds for about 17 minutes while carrying Mace before officers discovered him.
President Donald Trump was at the White House at the time. He later praised the way Secret Service handled the incident.
The changes cover sidewalks, roadways and parkland areas between the fence along the White House South Lawn and E Street NW between West Executive Avenue and East Executive Avenue. They are part of an ongoing review of White House security measures.
The new restrictions were put in place in 2015 for overnight hours, between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. They were made permanent on Wednesday.
“The Secret Service must continually evaluate security protocols and continually balance the security of our protected persons and facilities with the public’s ability to access them,” said agency spokeswoman Cathy Milhoan.
Passers-by will still be able to see and take photographs of the White House and its grounds.
The new restrictions are similar to existing measures that have been in place for some time along the fence on the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the White House, where rows of metal bicycle racks have been lined up to essentially create a secondary layer of fencing.
Milhoan said the added security layer on the south side of the White House will create a “clear visual break” to help officers identify and respond to potential hazards, such as thrown objects or fence jumpers.
Last year, the Secret Service put small spikes atop the six-foot fence surrounding the White House. It has also announced plans for a taller and stronger fence.