The U.S. Secret Service wants $8 million to build a replica of the White House in a Maryland suburb that can be used for training purposes.
Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy told a House Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday about the plans. According to an NBC News story, Clancy said agents could "train more efficiently” if they had a more realistic model of the White House on which to do so.
“Right now, we train on a parking lot, basically,” Clancy told subcommittee members, according to The New York Times. “We put up a makeshift fence and walk off the distance between the fence at the White House and the actual house itself. We don’t have the bushes, we don’t have the fountains, we don’t get a realistic look at the White House.”
The request follows a rash of recent security lapses, including a 2014 incident in which one man jumped a White House fence, ran across the lawn and made it deep into the presidential mansion before being apprehended.
Clancy said the agency’s current facilities don’t let agents adequately train to prevent such occurrences.
Following the fence-jumping incident, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson appointed a panel of experts to investigate the security lapse.
That panel recommended immediately building a higher fence, according to The Times. But the panel also said “problems exposed by recent events go deeper than a new fence can fix” and suggested that agents train “in conditions that replicate the physical environment in which they will operate.”
Should Clancy get his wish, the replica would be built in Beltsville, Maryland, about 20 miles from the actual White House. Plans for the training structure are not yet complete and it is unclear if they will include a full-scale replica of the entire White House grounds.
Clancy spent most of his testimony at Tuesday’s hearing answering questions about a March 4 incident in which two agents drove a car into a White House security fence after allegedly drinking alcohol.
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