Montgomery County prepares security for pope's stay

WYNNEWOOD (WPVI) -- We are just two weeks away from Pope Francis' arrival, and though much of the talk has been centered around Center City, the Holy Father will actually be staying in Montgomery County, and that requires just as much preparation and planning.

On Friday officials declared themselves ready not only to protect the pope, but their entire Montgomery County population as well. They say now it's only a matter of fine tuning.

Montgomery County Chairman Josh Shapiro says, "We're very grateful to the first responders for the work that they've done top put this together and insure the safety and well-being of the people of Montgomery County."

Emergency first responders from fifty municipalities in the county attended Friday's summit to hear officials lay out the elaborate game plan for security during the papal visit.

The primary focus is on the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, which will act as the pope's headquarters and home during his whirlwind one night stay.

Security around the massive acreage will be massive. There will be multiple SWAT teams, local police, and more.

Lower Merion Police Superintendent Mike McGrath explains, "We will be supplemented by the Pennsylvania National Guard in excess of 200 National Guardsmen on both days."

Lankenau Hospital, located across from the seminary, is ready for any possible emergencies. The law enforcement community is preparing for all sorts of possibilities.

Steve LoPriesti of the Montgomery County Hazmat Unit says, "We will have trained bomb technicians from our unit, from the FBI, the ATF, and also the Pennsylvania State Police."

There will be medical teams prepared for any emergencies with various operation centers dispersed all over Montgomery County's 480,000 square miles.

Only four SEPTA stations in Montgomery County will be operational on the pope weekend.

Amidst all these worst case scenario, preparations there is the hope that it will not be necessary to employ.

County Intelligence Director Mike Vest says, "As of this date the FBI has no information to indicate a specific threat that is direct or is associated with the visit of the pope."

More information on security measures, listed by department, have been posted on the county's website.
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