DALLAS — A great deal of the nation’s attention will focus on North Texas next week as the George W. Bush Presidential Center opens in Dallas.
Needles to say, security will be tight as President Obama is expected to join his four living predecessors for the April 25 dedication ceremony on the SMU campus.
Following Monday's bombing in Boston, it's safe to say the issue of security for the ceremony will be top of mind.
"I think the risk factor as far as consequences has greatly elevated," said Danny Defenbaugh, former Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas office of the FBI.
Defenbaugh refers to the chilling carnage aimed at one of the most high-profile amateur sporting events in America, the Boston Marathon. The twin bombings raise the specter of what is arguably the first successful terrorist attack on American soil since September 11, 2001.
That, in turn, gives rise to security questions in Dallas next week.
While Defenbaugh says security planning on campus likely began more than one year ago, the explosions in Boston send a sobering reminder of readiness to every agency involved.
"The SMU police, Park Cities police, Dallas, FBI, ATF, Secret Service, etc. — you get that entire conglomerate of those law enforcement entities who going to make sure everyone knows what they need to know," Defenbaugh said.
Monday night on the SMU campus, life appeared as normal. Yet every student News 8 talked to was well aware of the bombing in Boston... as well as the need for unprecedented security on campus next week.
"I absolutely believe they are going to be conscious of that," said SMU student Hayden Craig. "They are going to make sure that the security that they do have is going to be ramped up."
Another student, John Bonadelle, said the privilege of having the Bush library on campus is worth any heightened security concerns.
"With that many important people and such a grand event taking place on campus, I feel like this…is going to be taken care of by SMU," he said.
SMU officials released a statement Monday night in response to questions raised by News 8:
“SMU's highest priority is always the safety of our campus. Depending on the need, the SMU Police Department is assisted by law enforcement professionals. For the dedication of the Bush Library, this multi-jurisdictional collaboration will be led by the U.S. Secret Service."
Perhaps making security easier, admission to the dedication ceremony next week is by invitation only.