Secret service tightens security for President's Hawaii vacation - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Secret service tightens security for President's Hawaii vacation

Tom McCarthy Tom McCarthy
Chip Reid Chip Reid
Brian Schatz Brian Schatz

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Security is in place for the first family's Hawaii vacation.

Any visit outside of the White House, and the secret service prepares an elaborate, bullet-proof plan to protect the world's most powerful man.

Barricades block the Kailua neighborhood where the first family plans to stay through the new year.

"The secret service guys contacted everybody here to check and see who lives here in the neighborhood so we can walk through the checkpoint at the end of the street," said Simpkins Mederois, a Kailua resident.

President Obama will arrive the islands under a high-security shield. Agents closest to him carry either a standard semi-automatic pistol, M-16, or a sub-machine gun.

As with any presidential visit, agents map out the safest route for the first family's motorcade.

They identify possible sniper positions, safe houses and hospitals along the way.

"Every trip the president makes is a challenge. And for us, it's game day. Every time he leaves the White House property, it's the Super Bowl," said Special Agent Tom McCarthy.

When the president travels, his actions are broadcast to the world.

Ground zero is at the Westin Moana Surfrider in Waikiki.

In one room, television networks, radios, newspapers, and news wires, will beam their stories of the tropical trip all via satellite.

"Over there you have it set up for a possible press conference, if there actually is news," said CBS White House Correspondent Chip Reid, pointing to a podium where President Obama can go live at any time if an emergency strikes.

But even a little R&R will surely get national attention.

"I think the most exciting moment may be if he goes and plays golf, or grabs a shaved ice, or takes the kids, but I think really this is about reconnecting with the family after a very, very busy and very, very stressful year," said Brian Schatz, former Hawaii Democratic Party Chair.

Honolulu police warn drivers to expect traffic tie-ups for the president's motorcade.

His routes will not be made public, but the secret service says it'll re-open roads as quickly as possible.

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