Samuel A. Stern: Turning now to the question of the motorcade route, Mr. Lawson, what can you tell us about how that was selected?
Winston Lawson: On November 8 when Mr. Kellerman was giving me some of the information on the proposed trip to Dallas, all of the advance agents for the respective stops were given the current itinerary as prepared by the White House staff for their stops, and for the Dallas stop there was a 45 minute time lapse from the time the President landed at the airport until the time that he attended the luncheon, and at the time that I left Washington, it had not been decided whether he would attend this luncheon at the Trade Mart where it later was planned to have it, or at the Women's Building on the Fair Grounds. And this figured a great deal in the parade route, the 45 minutes.
Samuel A. Stern: The 45 minute time interval?
Winston Lawson: Yes, sir.
Samuel A. Stern: Was established for you by the White House?
Winston Lawson: Yes, sir.
Samuel A. Stern: And were you specifically instructed to prepare a parade route or was this your reaction to the time lag?
Winston Lawson: This is my function. I wasn't specifically asked to, but this would be the function of the advance agent.
Samuel A. Stern: Were you instructed that there would be a motorcade?
Winston Lawson: Yes, sir.
Samuel A. Stern: And that is what this 45 minutes was for?
Winston Lawson: That is correct.
Samuel A. Stern: How was the actual route determined then once the Trade Mart had been selected as the site for the luncheon?
Winston Lawson: Various routes were under consideration. We could have gone from the airport direct to the Trade Mart the way that we should have returned, the 4 mile route returning from the Trade Mart to the airport, or we could have taken a city street-type route all the way downtown and all the way back, or we could have taken a freeway downtown and a freeway back. But the route that was chosen was chosen because it was the consensus of opinion that it was probably the best route under the circumstances. It allowed us 45 minutes to go from the airport to the Trade Mart at the speed that I figured the President would go from past experience with him in advances, and as a regular working agent riding in a follow-up car. It allowed us to go downtown, which was wanted back in Washington, D.C. It afforded us wide streets most of the way, because of the buses that were in the motorcade. It afforded us a chance to have alternative routes if something happened on the motorcade route. It was the type of suburban area a good part of the way where the crowds would be able to be controlled for a great distance, and we figured that the largest crowds would be downtown, which ,they were, and that the wide streets that we would use downtown would be of sufficient width to keep the public out of our way. Prime consideration in a motorcade is to make sure the President isn't stopped unless he plans it himself. You must have room to maneuver, alternative routes to turn off from, room for buses and so forth, and particularly room to keep the public out of the street.
Samuel A. Stern: What was the extent of your review of the parade route with the local police?
Winston Lawson: With the local police I went over the entire route on one occasion, went to the various stops at other times and so actually did parts of the route at that time, the part of the route which would be near the stop like the airport and the Trade Mart. But the actual route I went over with two police officers from the Dallas Police Department.
John J. McCloy: By went over you mean you actually drove along the entire route?
Winston Lawson: We drove it sir, with them taking notes, and them making suggestions and Mr. Sorrels and I making suggestions.
Samuel A. Stern: To what extent did they actually participate in the decision that this be the route?
Winston Lawson: They were asked their advice on possible routes that you could go to the Trade Mart.
Samuel A. Stern: And they had no disagreement with the route...
Winston Lawson: No, sir.
Samuel A. Stern: That was actually selected, no criticism of it? What arrangements did you make with the Dallas police for security along the route, starting from Love Field and getting to the Trade Mart?
Winston Lawson: A good deal of it was trait control, both to keep people out of our path as the motorcade progressed so that they would have at least the major intersections covered and as many of the other ones as possible. Those which were not, all intersections that were not able to be controlled physically by a policeman or more than one policeman were to be controlled by motorcycles that would hop-skip the motorcade, or other police vehicles in the motorcade.
At certain times certain intersections were to be cutoff as we proceeded so that it would allow time for any traffic ahead of us to clear the area before we arrived there. Where it was felt from past experience and the type of area that we were passing through there would be large crowds, more police were requested for along the route, and on the routes.
Samuel A. Stern: Foot policemen or motorcycle patrolmen?
Winston Lawson: Both, sir. They were requested at the corners to have more than one policeman, so that there would be policemen for watching the crowd and controlling the crowd, and other policemen who would have jurisdiction over the traffic in the area, so that someone wouldn't be watching the crowd and a car going by him or vice versa. We saw the underpasses or overpasses or bridges that were on the route, and they were requested to have officers, depending on the type of installation there that I just mentioned, the type that it was, either under it or over it, on the underpasses. The railroad lines were checked and here was no rail traffic of a scheduled nature over the two rail crossings that we would pass, none on the way in but two on the way out. However, just to make sure that a switch engine or other trains wouldn't come along about the time we were due there, and then stop the President's motorcade, why we had police stationed at the railroad crossings that were on the same level as the road...
Samuel A. Stern: What about the deployment of police on rooftops of buildings at any point along the route?
Winston Lawson: We had - police were requested at points where I knew that the President would be out of the car for any length of time.
Samuel A. Stern: And where was that?
Winston Lawson: At the Trade Mart and at the airport.
John J. McCloy: May I interrupt at this point. During the course of the motorcade while the motorcade was in motion, no matter how slowly, you had no provision for anyone on the roofs?
Winston Lawson: No, sir.
John J. McCloy: Or no one to watch the windows?
Winston Lawson: Oh, yes. The police along the area were to watch the crowds and their general area. The agents riding in the follow-up car as well as myself in the lead car were watching the crowds and the windows and the rooftops as we progressed.
John J. McCloy: It was part of your routine duties when you were going through a street in any city, to look at the windows as well as the crowds?
Winston Lawson: Yes, sir; and if the President's car slowed to such a point or the crowd ever pressed in to such a point that people are getting too close to the President, the agents always get out and go along the car.
Gerald Ford: I would like if I might to follow up with a question which you asked a minute ago on the record. As I recall your testimony, Mr. Lawson, you indicated that the police who were assigned along the route had the responsibility to check windows and the crowd. Is that what you indicated?
Winston Lawson: And also the agents as they went by; yes,sir. It wouldn't be just a police responsibility; no, sir.
Gerald Ford: How did the police know they had that responsibility?
Winston Lawson: In our police meetings, of which we had three or four listed in here, we talked about crowd control and watching the crowd, and of course the agents just do that anyway. That is part of their function. And in the newspaper accounts it said how watchful the police were going to be of all kinds of activity, and actually they requested public assistance, as I recall it, anyone that noticed anything unusual they had asked that they notify the police.
Gerald Ford: When you meet with police officials, in this case Chief Curry, Sheriff Decker, and who else, is this clearly laid out that the members of their organization have the specific responsibility of checking windows? Do you follow to see whether this is actually put in writing to the members of the police force, and the Sheriff's department?
Winston Lawson: No, sir; I do not follow to see if it was put in writing.
Allen Dulles: You mean an external check don't you? You don't mean going through each building?
Gerald Ford: No. As I understood it, policemen have the responsibility to check windows and to look at the crowd, and I was just wondering whether there is any follow to be sure that the chief of police and the sheriff or anybody else actually makes this specific communication to the people in their organizations.
Winston Lawson: In this particular instance there was not. Sometimes on my own advances I have received copies of police directives. Sometimes this is covered and sometimes there are other directives. This is not normal though. It is just that the police say "Here is a copy of one of our orders." Sometimes it is the posting of police, sometimes it is that. In Berlin where I was assisting on an advance for President Kennedy's trip in June, we received all kinds of information of this type, even to the fact where the police had requested anyone to notify them of anyone that tried to gain entry into their room that didn't belong there, if it was a business office or if it was a private home or if all of a sudden they discovered they had a friend that they never knew they had before and all that. But this is not always done.
John J. McCloy: I want to get it clear. In your presence, in the instructions to the police in Dallas, did you tell the police to keep their eye on windows as you went along?
Winston Lawson: I cannot say definitely that I told the police to watch windows. I usually do. On this particular case I cannot say whether I definitely said that. I believe I did, but I would not swear to the fact that I said watch all the windows.
John J. McCloy: I have heard it rumored that there was a general routine in the Secret Service that when you were going through in a motorcade or by car, that the problem of watching windows was so great that you didn't do it. It was only as you came to a stop that it was the standing instructions that then roofs should be watched and places of advantage would be inspected or looked at. Is that true?
Winston Lawson: No, sir; the agents in the motorcade are to watch the route and the rooftops and the windows as they can. Of course there were thousands of windows there, over 20,000 I believe on that motorcade. But agents are supposed to watch as they go along...
Gerald Ford: Did you look at or scan that building?
Winston Lawson: I do not, no, because part of my job is to look backwards at the President's car. The speed of the motorcade is controlled by the President's car, unless it is an emergency situation. If he stands up and is waving at the crowd and there are quite a few crowds then, of course, the car goes slower. If the density of the crowd is quite scarce or there is a time factor why you are going faster. So the person in the lead car in this rolling command car usually keeps turning around and watching the President's ear.