The coming Sunday and Monday will mark the visit of US Vice President Mike Pence to Estonia. The security measures to be put in place for the visit of America’s number two are nearly equal to efforts made in September of 2014 when Barack Obama visited the country. The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) will bring in additional forces from nearly all prefectures.
Pence will land at Tallinn Airport on Sunday afternoon. Traffic on the nearby Tallinn-Tartu highway will be stopped for security reasons for the duration of the landing. From that moment, the vice president and the area around him are among the securest in the world. This requires constant effort from the entire security team and comes with a measure of inconvenience for civilians.
The road from the airport to Swissotel Tallinn (in Tornimäe) will be closed for Pence’s motorcade between 12 and 2 p.m. The same will be done between the hotel and Toompea Hill between 5 and 7 p.m. as the president moves there and back.
Roads will once again be closed between Kadriorg and Tornimäe on Monday from 8.30 to 9.30 a.m. Next from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. from Kadriorg to the General Staff of the Defense Forces, and finally from 1 to 2 p.m. between the general staff and the airport. That will mark the end of Pence’s visit and life returning to normal.
It is no secret that a lot of US Secret Service equipment will arrive in Estonia by the time of the visit. Armored vehicles known as “The Beast”, security detail vehicles, firearms etc. The president’s motorcade will transport a number of formidably armed secret service agents. All in case something should happen. The motorcade will also be accompanied by helicopters and aircraft.
Once the presidential motorcade had to stop for a rather prosaic reason - the car known as “The Beast” got stuck on its underside. This happened in Ireland in 2011 when one person more than intended got into the car and caused it to ride too low.
Northern Prefect of the PPA Kristjan Jaani said this will not happen in Estonia. “The motorcade will not stop in Tallinn and will definitely get through everywhere - the same kind of vehicles have moved through Tallinn on several occasions,” Jaani said.
Security will be provided by the secret service and the Estonian police. The former’s agents have been working with police officers since last week. “It is understood that partners have their demands when it comes to the security of such persons. The entire operation will take place in cooperation based on active exchange of information,” Jaani said.
For example, the PPA started additional security checks at the Tallinn passenger port and airport yesterday, while inspections will become more frequent also on the Estonia-Latvia border from today. “We will not restore border control as we did during Obama’s visit; however, people crossing the border at Ikla for example are looking at a much more likely event of their car being stopped,” the prefect explained.
He said the police are looking for people matching a specific profile and vehicles that have a Schengen information system notation. “These people might include wanted criminals but also those sporting a criminal background and who are in the police’s sphere of interest. These are deterrence measures.
It is the task of the PPA to thoroughly check and safeguard all routes the vice president will take. We will also check buildings near where Pence will be stopping.
Because the vice president will spend the night in Tallinn, a perimeter will be created around the hotel that will only be penetrable by foot. Residents of Tornimäe 7 will be able to access their building through a special access area. Vehicles parking in underground parking lots in the area will be subject to security checks.
The two-day visit will bring to Tallinn additional PPA operatives from all prefectures, with a total of more than 600 police officers in charge of security. Pence’s visit comes at a good time for the PPA as additional people have already been brought in for EU presidency events. The more active stage of the presidency ended on Monday.