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Fork it over: Secret Service confiscates utensils at Obama speech

June 22, 2012: President Obama speaks at the NALEO conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.AP

It seems the Secret Service can't be too careful. 

Shortly before President Obama addressed a gathering of Latino officials -- whose support he is actively seeking -- guests at the Friday conference were told to hurry up and finish lunch. The reason? The president's security wanted to make sure all sharp-edged utensils were cleared away. 

The surprise announcement came from Raquel Regalado, a board member for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. 

"It's very important that you use your utensils as soon as possible," she told the Florida crowd. 

Chuckling through her own warning, Regalado noted they'd be having "another speaker" -- the president -- and "there is some Secret Service involved." 

"So there's a reason why there's no knives at your table, and the forks will be collected," she said. "And I'm not joking." 

Video of the announcement quickly made its way to the web, as bloggers opined about what the security precaution said about the president's trust level with his audience. 

But it turns out the Secret Service routinely tries to keep sharp utensils out of reach during presidential visits. Guests just typically don't hear an announcement about it. 

"It is a common practice for the USSS to ensure tables are cleared of any materials that may be deemed a possible hazard prior to the arrival of the president," Secret Service spokesman Max Milien said. "Any implication that this was unique for this event is completely inaccurate." 

Of course, the president has been in the presence of diners before who were allowed to keep their silverware. Whether the Secret Service takes the step of clearing out forks and knives depends on the circumstances. 

If the president plans to keep a fair distance from his audience, for instance, then guests might be allowed to keep their place-settings. And it would hardly be tenable for Secret Service to grab everybody's forks and knives every time the president decides he wants an impromptu lunch at a D.C. burger joint.   

Politico.com first reported on the security precautions at Friday's conference.

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