On July 14, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential candidate, visited the Annandale Campus for a one-hour speech, along with Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.
The College was notified of the candidate’s planned visit a few days before it occurred. Once NOVA learned of Clinton’s proposed visit, a range of daily activities (many lasting until late in the evening) commenced to ensure the safety and security for the candidate, her team and for up to 3,000 possible attendees. This formidable task required a NOVA team effort as well as coordination with outside agencies.
NOVA planners included representatives from the President’s Office, NOVA Police, the Office of Emergency Management and Safety (OEMS), Parking, Facilities, the Media Relations and Information Technology. NOVA planners identified college priorities, assessed and consolidated resources for this event, and coordinated with the United States Secret Service, the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), Fairfax County Police and Fire and Rescue, local hospitals and local media.
The result was a 30-page operation plan addressing communications requirements, fixed and roving teams to ensure safety and security for all attendees, traffic control in and around the event, parking on the Annandale Campus, communication with the public and NOVA community members, protection of protestors’ free speech while maintaining order and civility, and the comfort of the attendees, many of whom waited outside for hours in temperatures approaching 100 degrees. This plan was briefed to and approved by NOVA President Scott Ralls.
On the day of Clinton’s visit, more than 20 NOVA Police officers, from all NOVA campuses and representatives from OEMS, parking, facilities, IT and other offices met at 9:00 a.m. to review the plan and associated duty assignments and then took their posts. Operations were directed by an Incident Command Post (ICP) in the Ernst Center. This team, led by NOVA Police, was comprised of representatives from various College and external offices.
In addition to the ICP, NOVA’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) became operational for the first time. Directed by OEMS, with representatives from NOVA’s Police, IT, Media Relations, Finance, and VDEM, the EOC provided direct support to the ICP. The EOC had the capability to intervene with critical support in the event of a crisis.
Ralls, the Virginia Community College System’s Chancellor Glenn DuBois and NOVA Board Chair Todd Rowley visited the state-of-the-art EOC and were briefed on its capabilities by OEMS Director Tom Mayhew. The officials complimented Ralls on the EOC’s efficiency and effectiveness, noting it appeared to be in control of the situation and able to handle any contingency.
The Clinton visit was a complete success, and NOVA received compliments from Secret Service agents about the professionalism of the event. The significant security and planning activities that permitted such a successful visit speaks to NOVA’s teamwork and the professionalism of staff.