White House fence to get second layer of steel spikes

Alicia A. Caldwell
Associated Press

Washington — The Secret Service is adding a second layer of steel spikes to the top of the White House fence to keep would-be intruders at bay, according to a proposal submitted to the National Capitol Planning Commission.

The 1/2-inch long steel “pencil point” spikes will be snapped into place at the top of the fence and protrude outward, according to a diagram included in the proposal submitted for the Secret Service by that National Park Service. The spikes will be added to the fence along the north and south sides of the White House grounds.

The commission is expected to approve the proposal at a hearing Thursday afternoon.

The Secret Service has been studying ways to improve security at the White House since a Texas man was able to climb over the fence and run deep into the executive mansion in September.

A Secret Service spokesman did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment Thursday.

In a nine-page summary of the incident, the government concluded that Omar Gonzalez cleared the fence in a spot where a steel trident, or ornamental spike, was missing. A variety of other security failures, including poor training, were also highlighted in the report.

A second report from an outside panel recommended that the Secret Service replace the 7½-foot tall fence around the 18-acre White House complex. In the interim, the agency charged with protecting the president and securing the White House placed temporary metal bike racks along the fence line to keep people away from the fence. The proposal submitted to the planning commission did not discuss the bike racks.

Since the September incident, there have been several attempts to climb over the fence. In April, a California man was arrested after successfully scaling the fence and getting on to the White House lawn.