Papal Protection and Emergency Management

With Pope Francis visiting Philadelphia on September 26 and 27, Montgomery County is working to ensure the visit will be a safe one for everyone involved, according to the Delco Times. To ensure this is so, the County is working with municipal leaders, local and state police, SEPTA, PennDOT, the National Guard, emergency responders, hospital officials and citizen volunteer corps, and the Secret Service.

Pope Francis will be staying at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary on City Line Avenue, and public safety officials will be working to secure the local roadway. As Supt. Mike McGrath told the Delco Times, "we have been tasked with assisting the Secret Service. The mission is to close every driveway and intersection for a distance of 5.5 miles of curb line. We will have about 130 Lower Merion police officers assigned to work over the weekend supplemented with 200 National Guardsmen.”

To support the visit, coordination of emergency staff will be handled from the emergency operations center, which will be active in Montgomery County throughout the weekend.

More than 20 emergency management coordinators and Montgomery County police chiefs described their part of the advanced plans to coordinate police assignments and emergency operations centers with liaisons to outside services. Tom Piatek, training and exercise coordinator for Montgomery County, told the Times that primary areas of concern are pedestrian safety, medical needs, lost people and vehicles, crime and safety and suspicious packages.

Additionally, although no direct threats have been reported, a county bomb squad and hazardous materials response team would be on standby, and ambulance crews and physicians will be active in both the immediate area and throughout Montgomery County.

Montgomery County Commissioner Chairman Josh Shapiro told the Times that “the goal is to make sure everyone is safe.”