There’s a little more than a month to go before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as president. Rehoboth Beach Police Chief Keith Banks said the city is working closely with the Secret Service on security measures for when that time comes.
Biden purchased a house in North Shores, a community between Rehoboth Beach and Gordons Pond, during the summer of 2017.
To date, Biden has visited his North Shores home twice since he was named winner of the 2020 presidential election. Both times, Secret Service and local police set up a checkpoint within the small beach community.
Speaking during a Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk and Beach Committee meeting Dec. 14, Banks said there will be more security measures put in place – specifically, a checkpoint on Surf Avenue – when Biden actually becomes president. All this is being formulated right now, he said.
Banks said nothing has been formalized, but there’s the possibility of the Secret Service setting up a substation within the city’s police department so an agent can work directly with the local police authorities. He said the city already has an officer working directly with the Secret Service.
Given that Biden’s North Shores home is technically outside city limits, committee member Jim Horty, whose parents are North Shores neighbors of Biden’s, was curious who, between the state police and Rehoboth police, was in charge of the local policing operation when Biden is in town.
Banks said there’s a great working relationship with the state police, but Secret Service protocol has the city’s department in control. There’s only one way to get to North Shores and it’s through Rehoboth, he said.
“When he’s in town, we’re in charge,” said Banks.
Banks said the Rehoboth police department gets advance notice if Biden is going to be in town, but how far in advance varies. Depending on who is going to visit – family, children, dignitaries – he said there are different protocols in place.
“Typically, it’s a week, but it could also be a lot less,” said Banks. “A couple of times recently, it’s been less than 24 hours.”
Committee member Guy Abernathy asked Banks what the impact on the city’s budget is for the extra police presence and if the city was getting reimbursed.
As of now, Banks said, there’s no formula for reimbursing the city for additional expenses related to Biden, but he said the department has been informed there are federal grants available specifically for these types of expenses.
Frank Cooper, a city resident, asked Banks if the city was ready for demonstrations on the Boardwalk or other areas of the city when Biden was in town.
Referencing a special events ordinance the city put in place two years ago, Banks said there are policies and procedures in place for those specific times.
Even before Biden purchased the North Shores home, he delighted people in Rehoboth Beach with planned and unplanned trips to local businesses. Banks said those days are all but over, at least for the foreseeable future.
Banks said he knows the locals like to think of Biden as “Ol’ Joe,” but he continued, fortunately, or unfortunately, those days have changed. For safety reasons, people are not going to be able to get as close to him as they once did, he said.
Recognizing there is a difference in the situation, Banks said the city has had high-profile celebrities and political officials coming to Rehoboth Beach for a long time. The city, and its police department, are prepared.
Rehoboth Beach is a fantastic community that people like to visit, said Banks.