Solitary ConfinementKeramet Reiter of the University of California, Irvine will discuss the growth of solitary confinement in prisons at a special presentation on Feb. 6.
Bowden, a Reserve Deputy Constable in Brazos County and a Project Manager for Constable programs at the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas, was part of a contingency of 3,100 local law enforcement officers from across the nation enlisted to serve during Inaugural festivities. Bowden was stationed along 15th Street between Avenues F & G across from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and a block and a half from the White House in one direction and angry protesters in the other.
“I was there,” said Bowden. “I was a part of history.”
Bowden joined a cadre of representatives from the Brazos County area, which included the Constables’ offices, the Sheriff’s office, and police departments from Brenham, College Station and Texas A & M. They supplemented the U.S. Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Army, which were out in force for the parade. The local officers’ job was to scan the crowd for any suspicious movement, such as those throwing fruit or worse at the motorcade, and to serve as a backup in case protester broke the line. “My head was on a constant swivel,” said Bowden.
Although there was no incident in the immediate crowd, who had paid for prime space along the route, violent protesters made it to the nearest intersection before being turned back by METRO Police. The Starbucks where Bowden had gotten her coffee at the beginning of her 4 a.m. shift was destroyed, and she witnessed protesters lighting garbage cans on fire and throwing them into the crowd. All the local officers were told to bring gas masks in case of the use of tear gas.
Despite the unrest, the event was an exciting and historic experience, Bowden said.
Before the parade, Bowden caught a glimpse of Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis and Dr. Ben Carson, the nominee to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and his wife. Bowden also was nearby when Vice President Mike Pence got out of his limousine along the route, and when Trump passed in his vehicle. Bowden said she didn’t see much; she could only peek briefly out of the corner of her eye.
Although the Presidential motorcade was a thrill, Bowden said she was awestuck by the city, where the history she had learned only in books suddenly was laid out before her: the Potomac River, Arlington Cemetery, the Pentagon, and the statue of Iowa Jima. “I was struck by the sheer magnitude of being in such a historical place,” Bowden said. “It was amazing.”
During her ride to her post on chartered buses, Bowden said she was humbled by the police cars guarding every overpass along the way, vehicles escorting the entourage to their destination, and the police helicopters hovering overhead. “I used to do escorts, and now we were the ones being escorted,” Bowden said. “They were concerned for our safety. They wanted to make sure nothing happened to us. They were securing the security.”
Brazos County law enforcement has been invited to serve as an honorary security forces during the last four inaugurations, an initiative that began over a cup of coffee with a U.S. Secret Service Agent assigned to Presidential protection. Bowden was glad to be one of 15 law enforcement officers from Brazos County Constable Precinct 1, and she is ready and willing to do it again in four years.