|By Pamela Dickman Loveland Reporter-Herald
With a small wave, President Obama bounded up the stairs to Air Force One and bid Loveland and Fort Collins farewell Wednesday morning.
The plane, a Boeing 757, taxied down the runway and into the air at 9:50 a.m., capping an overnight presidential visit that law enforcement said went without a hitch.
“With this kind of visit they refer to wheels down and wheels up,” said Loveland Police Chief Luke Hecker, whose officers handled security at the Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport. “The visit was very safe and the president is wheels up.”
Obama flew into Loveland on Tuesday for a rally at Colorado State University then spent the night at the Fort Collins Marriott.
He was escorted and secured by Fort Collins and Loveland police, Larimer and Weld County Sheriff’s offices, the Colorado State Patrol, CSU police and officers from other Denver-area law enforcement agencies.
The State Patrol shut down Interstate-25 for the presidential motorcade, and Fort Collins police closed some streets for short amounts of time as the president traveled.
No agencies report any major problems during the two-day visit.
And while officials expect the bill for manpower to be expensive, numbers on the cost of the visit to local communities are not yet available.
“It’s obviously a big impact on the community,” said Fort Collins Police Chief John Hutto, who reported about 200 area officers joining Secret Service in keeping Obama safe.
Loveland Officer Charlie Wilson was on duty around the airport and said the task added some spice to the daily beat.
“The majesty, the power of the president of the United States — to see all these resources come together to make sure one man gets off the plane and back on safely,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
Loveland Mayor Cecil Gutierrez also was amazed at having the president so close, at getting to welcome him to Loveland, shake his hand and talk to him for a brief moment.
“Words can’t explain it,” Gutierrez said. “If you knew my background, a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks getting to be mayor of a city and getting to meet the president. Who would have ever thought it?”
Gutierrez was among the supporters who welcomed Obama to Loveland on Tuesday.
Crowds of supporters and opponents gathered near the airport and at CSU when the president arrived, but the roadsides were clear as he flew out Wednesday morning.
Then, security began to break down