A group of local Utah Highway Patrol troopers were part of a 40 member squad sent to Washington, D.C. this week, to provide security during the inauguration events for President Donald Trump.
Trooper Phil Rawlinson was one of four men, chosen from Section 1 that covers Cache, Rich and Box Elder counties. He, Sgt. Jason Kendrick and troopers, Josh Preece and Jason Jensen were selected last year, before Trump was even elected.
Rawlinson said they were flown to Washington Wednesday so they could have a day for orientation. On Thursday, they met with Utah Governor Gary Herbert and received training from the D.C. Metro Police Department.
“We were sworn in as U.S. Marshals just for the event,” explained Rawlinson. “When the inauguration parade was over the swearing-in, deputization expired. That was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The troopers woke up at 2 a.m. Friday so they could be to their post by 5 a.m. They, along with the other troopers from Utah and Colorado, were stationed on a side street off Pennsylvania Ave., about 200 yds. from the east-side of the White House.
Rawlinson said they could hear on their radios about the protests that were happening in nearby areas. Most of the people around them though were peaceful and expressed appreciation for them being there.
“There were a few protesters and things that we did see, carrying signs and chanting, but we had more people than we could count come up to us and say ‘thanks for being here, we are so glad you are here.’ Some would say, ‘Oh you’re from Utah,’ and they would have some tie to the state. They would tell us they had been to Park City skiing or another man said he went to Alta High School.
“They were pretty happy to see the Beehive and thanked us for being there. They were happy that there was a big showing of law enforcement because they felt safe while they were there.”
All together, more than 3,200 troopers, officers, and deputies from around the United States helped with security.
Rawlinson said it was special for him to be with other law enforcement members from around the country.
“I have never been to Washington D.C. and so I think being part of history and being with other police officers was something pretty neat.
The troopers remained at their posts for thirteen-and-half-hours Friday, until the parade and festivities were over around 6 p.m.
Rawlinson said even though it was a long day, it was a once in a lifetime experience that he’s glad he got to do.
“It was a pretty neat opportunity for all of us to be able to come and be a part of it. To be here as a police officer and wear the Utah Highway Patrol uniform here in Washington D.C. is pretty cool.”
The troopers flew back to Utah on Saturday.
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