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United States Secret Service

United States Secret Service
Common name U.S. Secret Service
Abbreviation USSS
Logo of the U.S. Secret Service
Flag of the U.S. Secret Service
Agency overview
Employees 6,750 + (2014)
Annual budget $1.80 billion (2014)
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency U.S.
General nature
  • Civilian agency
Specialist jurisdiction
Operational structure
Sworn members 4,400
Agency executive Joseph Clancy (acting), Director
Parent agency U.S. Department of Homeland Security (2003-present)
U.S. Department of the Treasury (1865-2003)
Field offices 136
Resident agent offices 68
Overseas offices 19

The United States Secret Service (USSS) is a federal law enforcement agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.[1] Until 2003, the Service was part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.[2]

The U.S. Secret Service has two distinct areas of responsibility:

  • Financial Crimes, covering missions such as prevention and investigation of counterfeiting of U.S. currency and U.S. treasury securities, and investigation of major fraud.[3]
  • Protection, which entails ensuring the safety of current and former national leaders and their families, such as the President, past presidents, vice presidents, presidential candidates, visiting heads of state, and foreign embassies.

The Secret Service's initial responsibility was to investigate counterfeiting of U.S. currency, which was rampant following the U.S. Civil War. The agency then evolved into the United States' first domestic intelligence and counterintelligence agency. Many of the agency's missions were later taken over by subsequent agencies such as the FBI, ATF, and IRS.


  • Dual mission 1
  • History 2
    • Early years 2.1
    • Truman assassination attempt 2.2
    • 1960s 2.3
    • 1980s and '90s 2.4
    • 2000s 2.5
      • September 11, 2001, attacks 2.5.1
      • Domestic expansion 2.5.2
      • International expansion 2.5.3
    • 2010s 2.6
  • Attacks on presidents 3
  • Significant investigations 4
  • Uniformed Division 5
  • Special Agent 6
  • Special Officer 7
  • Weapons and equipment 8
    • Previous firearms 8.1
    • Current weapons 8.2
    • Communications 8.3
    • Vehicles 8.4
    • Attire 8.5
  • Misconduct 9
    • Summit of the Americas prostitution incident 9.1
  • Directors 10
  • Field offices 11
  • In popular culture 12
  • Similar organizations 13
  • See also 14
  • References 15
  • Further reading 16
  • External links 17

Dual mission

Secret Service Special Agents (foreground) protecting the President of the United States in 2007.

The Secret Service has two primary missions, investigation of financial crimes and physical protection of designated protectees. Today the agency's primary investigative mission is to safeguard the payment and financial systems of the United States. These include crimes that involve financial institution fraud, computer and telecommunications fraud, false identification documents, access device fraud, advance fee fraud, electronic funds transfers and money laundering as it relates to the agency's core violations. After the 1901 assassination of President William McKinley, Congress also directed the Secret Service to protect the President of the United States. Protection remains the other key mission of the United States Secret Service.

Today, the Secret Service is authorized by law to protect:[4]

  • The President, the Vice President (or other officer next in the order of succession to the Office of President, should the vice presidency be vacant), the President-elect, and the Vice President-elect
  • The immediate families of the above individuals
  • Former Presidents and their spouses for their lifetimes except when the spouse divorces or remarries. From 1997 until 2013, legislation became effective limiting Secret Service protection to former Presidents and their spouses to a period of 10 years from the date the former President leaves office. President Barack Obama signed legislation reversing this limit and reinstating lifetime protection on January 10, 2013.[5][6][7]
  • The widow or widower of a former President who dies in office or dies within a year of leaving office for a period of one year after the President's death (the Secretary of Homeland Security can extend the protection time)
  • Children of former Presidents until age 16 or 10 years after the presidency.
  • Former Vice Presidents, their spouses, and their children under age for up to 6 months from the date the former Vice President leaves office (the Secretary of Homeland Security can extend the protection time)
  • Visiting heads of states or governments and their spouses traveling with them,
  • Other distinguished foreign visitors to the United States and official representatives of the United States performing special missions abroad, as directed by the President
  • Major presidential and vice presidential candidates[8]
  • The spouses of major presidential and vice presidential candidates (within 120 days of a general presidential election)
  • Other individuals as designated per executive order of the President
  • National Special Security Events, when designated as such by the Secretary of Homeland Security

Any of these individuals may decline Secret Service protection, except the President, the Vice President (or other officer next in the order of succession to the Office of President), the President-elect, and the Vice President–elect.[4]

When Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009, the Secret Service continued to protect her at home; however the Diplomatic Security Service protected her while she was performing her duties as the Secretary of State, including foreign travel.

The Secret Service investigates thousands of incidents a year of individuals threatening the President of the United States.

The Director of Secret Service is appointed by the President of the United States.


Early years

With a reported one third of the currency in circulation being counterfeit at the time,[9] the Secret Service was created on July 5, 1865 in Washington, D.C., to suppress counterfeit currency. Chief William P. Wood was sworn in by Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch. It was commissioned in Washington, D.C. as the "Secret Service Division" of the Department of the Treasury with the mission of suppressing counterfeiting. The legislation creating the agency was on Abraham Lincoln's desk the night he was assassinated.[10] At the time, the only other federal law enforcement agencies were the United States Park Police, the U.S. Post Office Department's Office of Instructions and Mail Depredations (now known as the United States Postal Inspection Service), and the U.S. Marshals Service. The Marshals did not have the manpower to investigate all crime under federal jurisdiction, so the Secret Service began to investigate everything from murder to bank robbery to illegal gambling. After the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, Congress informally requested that the Secret Service provide presidential protection. A year later, the Secret Service assumed full-time responsibility for presidential protection. In 1902, William Craig became the first Secret Service agent to die while serving, in a road accident while riding in the presidential carriage.

The Secret Service was the first U.S. domestic intelligence and counterintelligence agency. Domestic intelligence collection and counterintelligence responsibilities were vested in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) upon the FBI's creation in 1908.

The Secret Service assisted in arresting Japanese American leaders and in the Japanese American internment during World War II.[11] The U.S. Secret Service is not a part of the U.S. Intelligence Community.[12]

Truman assassination attempt

In 1950, President Harry S. Truman was residing in Blair House while the White House, across the street, was undergoing renovations. On November 1, 1950, two Puerto Rican nationalists, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, approached Blair House with the intent to assassinate President Truman. Collazo and Torresola opened fire on Private Leslie Coffelt and other White House Police officers. Though mortally wounded by three shots from a 9 mm Walther P38 to his chest and abdomen, Private Coffelt returned fire, killing Torresola with a single shot to his head. As of 2012, Coffelt is the only member of the Secret Service to be killed while protecting a US president against an assassination attempt (Special Agent Tim McCarthy stepped in front of President Ronald Reagan during the assassination attempt of March 30, 1981, and took a bullet to the abdomen but made a full recovery). Collazo was also shot, but survived his injuries and served 29 years in prison before returning to Puerto Rico in late 1979.


In 1968, as a result of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination, Congress authorized protection of major presidential and vice presidential candidates and nominees.[13] In 1965 and 1968, Congress also authorized lifetime protection of the spouses of deceased presidents unless they remarry and of the children of former presidents until age 16.[2]

1980s and '90s

Secret Service agents providing security for Pope Benedict XVI in Washington, D.C.

The Secret Service Presidential Protective Division safeguards the President of the United States and his immediate family. They work with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and the military to safeguard the President when he travels in Air Force One, Marine One and by limousine in motorcades.

Although the most visible role of the Secret Service today, personal protection is an anomaly in the responsibilities of an agency focused on fraud and counterfeiting.

In 1984 the US Congress passed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, which extended the Secret Service's jurisdiction over credit card fraud and computer fraud.

In 1990 the Secret Service initiated Operation Sundevil, originally intended to be a sting against malicious hackers, allegedly responsible for disrupting telephone services across the entire United States. The operation, which was later described by Bruce Sterling in his book The Hacker Crackdown, affected a great number of people unrelated to hacking, and led to no convictions. The Secret Service, however, was sued and required to pay damages.

In 1994 and 1995, it ran an undercover sting called Operation Cybersnare.[14]

The Secret Service investigates forgery of government checks, forgery of currency equivalents (such as travelers' or cashiers' checks), and certain instances of wire fraud (such as the so-called Nigerian scam) and credit card fraud. The reason for this combination of duties is that when the need for presidential protection became apparent in the early 20th century, few federal services had the necessary abilities and resources. The FBI, IRS, ATF, ICE, and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) did not yet exist. The United States Marshals Service was the only other logical choice, providing protection for the President on a number of occasions.

The Secret Service has concurrent jurisdiction with the FBI over certain violations of federal computer crime laws. They have created 24 Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTFs) across the United States. These task forces are partnerships between the Service, federal/state and local law enforcement, the private sector and academia aimed at combating technology-based crimes.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton signed Presidential Decision Directive 62, which established National Special Security Events (NSSE). That directive made the Secret Service responsible for security at designated events.


September 11, 2001, attacks

The New York City Field office was located at 7 World Trade Center. Immediately after the September 11 attacks, Special Agents and other New York Field office employees were among the first to respond with first aid. Sixty-seven Special Agents in New York City, at and near the New York Field Office, helped to set up triage areas and evacuate the towers. One Secret Service employee, Master Special Officer Craig Miller,[15] died during the rescue efforts. On August 20, 2002, Director Brian L. Stafford awarded the Director's Valor Award to employees who assisted in the rescue attempts.[16]

Domestic expansion

Effective March 1, 2003, the Secret Service transferred from the Treasury to the newly established Department of Homeland Security.


  • Official website
  • Protecting the U.S. President abroad, by the British Broadcasting Corporation
  • Inside the Secret Service - slideshow by Life magazine
  • United States Secret Service at the Wayback Machine (archived March 1, 2000)

External links

  • Roberts, Marcia (1991). Looking back and seeing the future : the United States Secret Service, 1865-1990. Association of Former Agents of the United States Secret Service. 
  • Emmett, Dan (2014). Within arm's length: a secret service agent's definitive inside account of protecting the President (First ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press.  
  • Costello, Mark (2002). Big If. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.  
  • Kessler, Ronald (2010). In the President's secret service: behind the scenes with agents in the line of fire and the Presidents they protect (1st paperback ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press.  

Further reading

  1. ^ Resse, Shawn (2012-04-16). "The U.S. Secret Service: An Examination and Analysis of Its Evolving Missions".  
  2. ^ a b "Secret Service History". United States Secret Service. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  3. ^ "United States Secret Service: Investigative Mission". Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  4. ^ a b "United States Code: Title 18, Section 3056". 
  5. ^ Gillman, Todd J. "Obama signs lifetime Secret Service protection for George W. Bush, himself and future presidents". Trail Blazers Blog. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 18 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Adams, Beckett (10 January 2013). "President Obama Will Have Secret Service Protection For the Rest of His Life". TheBlaze. Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  7. ^ Compton, Ann (10 January 2013). "Lifetime Secret Service Protection Restored for Presidents Bush and Obama". ABC News. Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  8. ^ USSS. "USSS Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  9. ^ "The United States Secret Service". 1922-07-01. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  10. ^ Petro, Joseph; Jeffrey Robinson (2005). Standing Next to History, An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 16.  
  11. ^ 11 Asian L.J. 147 (2004), Foreword: Sixty Years after the Internment: Civil Rights, Identity Politics, and Racial Profiling; Tamaki, Donald K.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Pub.L. 90–331
  14. ^ "Wireless Industry Salutes U.S. Secret Service". 1995-09-11. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  15. ^ "Master Special Officer Craig J. Miller". The Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c d Kessler, Ronald. In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect. 
  17. ^ "United States Secret Service: Electronic Crimes Task Forces and Working Groups". 2001-10-26. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  18. ^ "About the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Forces". Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  19. ^ a b c "U.S. Secret Service Forms Three New Task Forces" (PDF) (Press release). July 10, 2009. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  20. ^ "U.S. Secret Service Forms New Task Force" (PDF) (Press release). February 4, 2010. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  21. ^ "United States Secret Service Signs Partnership Agreement With Italian Officials Establishing the First European Electronic Crimes Task Force" (PDF) (Press release). July 6, 2009. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  22. ^ "United States Secret Service Signs Partnership Agreement With United Kingdom Officials Establishing the Second European Electronic Crimes Task Force" (PDF) (Press release). August 9, 2010. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  23. ^ "United States Secret Service: Frequently Asked Questions". 1997-01-01. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  24. ^ Henry, Ed (30 September 2014). "House intruder entered East Room, used unlocked door".  
  25. ^ "Report: Armed contractor with criminal record was on elevator with Obama at CDC".  
  26. ^ Schmidt, Michael (2 November 2014). "One Day in an Elevator With Obama, Then Out of a Job". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  27. ^ Elaine Quijano (2005-05-10). "Secret Service told grenade landed near Bush". Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  28. ^ Chilcote (2006-01-11). "Bush grenade attacker gets life". CNN. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  29. ^ Petro, Joseph;  
  30. ^ "Robert L. DeProspero". WVUAlumni. West Virginia University Alumni Association. 2005. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  31. ^ "Johnson Praises Agent's Bravery: Honors Guard Who Shielded Him in Dallas Shooting 'Courage' Is Cited". The New York Times. Associated Press. December 5, 1963. p. 32. 
  32. ^ "The Transfer of Power".  
  33. ^ Associated Press (November 27, 1963). "Johnson Says Agent in Dallas Screened Him With His Body". The New York Times. p. 21. 
  34. ^ Youngblood, Rufus (1973). Twenty Years in the Secret Service. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 147–149. 
  35. ^ "Survivor's Guilt: The Secret Service and the Failure to Protect the President". 
  36. ^ "He Took A Bullet For Reagan". CBS News. June 11, 2004. 'In the Secret Service,' [McCarthy] continued, 'we're trained to cover and evacuate the president. And to cover the president, you have to get as large as you can, rather than hitting the deck.' 
  37. ^ By means of the NCAA Award of Valor, the National Collegiate Athletic Association recognizes "courageous action or noteworthy bravery" by persons involved with intercollegiate athletics. McCarthy had played NCAA football at the University of Illinois.
  38. ^ Wilber, Del Quentin (2011). Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan. Macmillan. ISBN 0-8050-9346-X.
  39. ^ "Secret Service Investigation Disrupts Identity Theft Ring" (PDF) (Press release). September 13, 2007. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  40. ^ "U.S. Secret Service's Operation Firewall Nets 28 Arrests" (PDF) (Press release). October 28, 2004. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  41. ^ "Additional Indictments Announced in Ongoing Secret Service Network Intrusion Investigation" (PDF) (Press release). August 5, 2008. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  42. ^ "Uniformed Division". US Secret Service. Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  43. ^ a b c d "United States Secret Service: Uniformed Division". Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  44. ^ "". August 26, 2009. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  45. ^ a b c Jones, Richard D. Jane's Infantry Weapons 2009/2010. Jane's Information Group; 35th edition (January 27, 2009). ISBN 978-0-7106-2869-5.
  46. ^ "Eyeballing the US Secret Service Technical Security Division". Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  47. ^ "The American Presidency". 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  48. ^ Schmidt, Michael S. (18 April 2012). "3 in Scandal Being Forced Out of Secret Service, Officials Say". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 April 2012. 
  49. ^ David Jackson; Richard Wolf (16 April 2012). "Obama: 'Angry' if Secret Service allegations are true". USA Today. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  50. ^ "Secret Service amends standards of conduct after KIRO 7 investigation". KIRO-TV. KIRO-TV. 27 April 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  51. ^ a b c Norah O'Donnell; Jillian Hughes (27 April 2012). "New code of conduct issued for Secret Service agents". CBS News. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  52. ^ Schmidt, Michael S. (27 April 2012). "Secret Service Tightens Travel Rules for Its Staff". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  53. ^ David Nakamura; Ed O'Keefe (28 April 2012). "Secret Service imposes new rules on agents for foreign trips". The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  54. ^ Jackson, David (26 April 2012). "Secret Service investigating more allegations of misconduct". USA Today. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  55. ^ "United States Secret Service Field Office Contact Details". United States Secret Service. Retrieved 2014-09-06. 


See also

Similar organizations

  • Television
    • House of Cards Vice President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), and his wife Claire Underwood (Robin Wright), have a threesome with a member of his Secret Service Edward Meechum (Nathan Darrow).
    • The Wild Wild West (1965–69): A highly popular Western action series, set in the late 1860s, starring Robert Conrad and Ross Martin as Secret Service agents James West and Artemus Gordon. West and Gordon pursue a variety of villains across the old west and often report directly to President Ulysses S. Grant. Two reunion telemovies were screened in 1979 and 1980, followed by the film Wild Wild West (above).
    • The West Wing (1999–2006): This series offers a glimpse into the inner workings of a fictional White House administration, with members of the Secret Service regularly making appearances.
    • 24 (2001–10): Involves many characters and operations within the Secret Service as they protect the presidents throughout the series.
    • NCIS (2003–present): a TV series about the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. In season 1 one of the main characters, Special Agent Caitlin Todd, is introduced as a Secret Service member in the 1st episode. After she is made a permanent member of the NCIS team, her past as a Secret Service agent is referenced frequently.
    • Numb3rs. In the episode Counterfeit Reality (Season 1, Episode 7), the team are joined by Agent Kim Hall, while they investigate the counterfeiting of small denomination bills.
    • Warehouse 13 (2009–present): A science fiction series about two Secret Service agents who are taken from their old job of guarding the President and instead are sent to track down artifacts with supernatural powers.
    • Intelligence (2014): U.S. Secret Service agent Riley Neal (Meghan Ory) is recruited by the U.S. Cyber Command to provide protective services for Cyber Command agent Gabriel Vaughn (Josh Holloway), into whose brain a high-tech microchip has been implanted.

In popular culture

The Secret Service has agents assigned to 136 field offices and the headquarters in Washington, D.C. The field offices are located in cities throughout the United States and in Brazil (Brasilia), Bulgaria (Sofia), Canada (Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver), Colombia (Bogota), China (Hong Kong), France (Paris, Lyon), Germany (Frankfurt), Italy (Rome), Mexico (Mexico City), Netherlands (The Hague), Romania (Bucharest), Russia (Moscow), South Africa (Pretoria), Spain (Madrid), Thailand (Bangkok), and the United Kingdom (London). The offices in Lyon and The Hague are respectively responsible for liaison with the headquarters of Interpol and Europol, located in those cities.[55]

Field offices

  1. William P. Wood (1865–1869)
  2. Hiram C. Whitley (1869–1874)
  3. Elmer Washburn (1874–1876)
  4. James Brooks (1876–1888)
  5. John S. Bell (1888–1890)
  6. Andrew L. Drummond (1891–1894)
  7. William P. Hazen (1894–1898)
  8. John E. Wilkie (1898–1911)
  9. William J. Flynn (1912–1917)
  10. William H. Moran (1917–1936)
  11. Frank J. Wilson (1937–1946)
  12. James J. Maloney (1946–1948)
  13. U. E. Baughman (1948–1961)
  14. James J. Rowley (1961–1973)
  15. H. Stuart Knight (1973–1981)
  16. John R. Simpson (1981–1992)
  17. John Magaw (1992–1993)
  18. Eljay B. Bowron (1993–1997)
  19. Lewis C. Merletti (1997–1999)
  20. Brian L. Stafford (1999–2003)
  21. W. Ralph Basham (2003–2006)
  22. Mark J. Sullivan (2006–2013)
  23. Julia Pierson (2013–2014)
  24. Joseph Clancy (2014-present) (acting)


A few weeks later, stories emerged of Secret Service agents hiring strippers and prostitutes prior to Obama's 2011 visit to El Salvador.[54]

After the incident was publicized, the Secret Service implemented new rules for its personnel.[50][51][52][53] The rules prohibit personnel from visiting "non-reputable establishments"[51] and from consuming alcohol less than ten hours before starting work. Additionally, they restrict who is allowed in hotel rooms.[51]

In April 2012, an incident involving the president's security detail received international press attention. The incident involved 11 agents and personnel from four branches of the U.S. military; they allegedly engaged prostitutes while assigned to protect the U.S. President at the 6th Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia. As of April 24, 2012, nine employees had resigned or retired.[48][49]

Summit of the Americas prostitution incident


The attire for Uniformed Division Officers includes standard police uniforms or utility uniforms and ballistic/identification vests for members of the countersniper team, Emergency Response Team (ERT), and canine officers. The shoulder patch of the Uniformed Division consists of the U. S. coat of arms on white or black, depending on the garment to which it is attached. Also, the shoulder patch is embroidered with "U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division Police" around the emblem.[47]

Special Agents and Special Officers of the Secret Service wear attire that is appropriate for their surroundings, in order to blend in as much as possible. In most circumstances, the attire of a close protection shift is a conservative suit, but it can range from a tuxedo to a casual clothing as required by the environment. Stereotypically Secret Service agents are often portrayed wearing reflective sunglasses and a communication earpiece. Often their attire is customized to conceal the wide array of equipment they wear while working protection assignments. Agents wear a distinctive lapel pin that identifies them to other agents.

Secret Service agent guarding President Obama in 2010


When transporting the President in a motorcade, the Secret Service uses a fleet of custom-built armored Cadillac Parade Limousines, the newest and largest version of which is known as "The Beast". Armored Chevrolet Suburbans are also used when logistics require such a vehicle or when a more low profile appearance is required. For official movement the limousine is affixed with U.S. and presidential flags and the presidential seal on the rear doors. For unofficial events the vehicles are left sterile and unadorned.[16]


The agency uses Motorola XTS radios and surveillance kits in order to maintain communication and are known to use DES encryption keys. When operationally required military grade radios that utilize Type 1 encryption algorithms are fielded.[46]


The Department of Homeland Security has made numerous attempts to bring the Secret Service's weapons procurement in line with the rest of the department. The agency has resisted these inroads and currently maintains an independent acquisition process. A program to identify a replacement for the P229 is in its formative stages.

Uniform Division technicians assigned to the Counter Sniper (CS) team use custom built .300 Winchester Magnum bolt-action rifles referred to as JARs ("Just Another Rifle"). These rifles use Remington 700 actions in Accuracy International stocks with Schmidt & Bender optics. CS technicians also use the 7.62mm KAC SR-25/Mk11 Mod 0 semi-automatic sniper rifle with a Trijicon 5.5x ACOG optic.

The Counter Assault Team (CAT) and the Emergency Response Team (ERT) are both issued the 5.56mm Knight's Armament Company SR-16 CQB assault rifle. CAT also uses 12 gauge Remington 870 MCS breaching shotguns.

Units assigned to the Special Operations Division carry a variety of non-standard weapons.

As a non-lethal option, Special Agents, Special Officers and Uniformed Division Officers are armed with the ASP baton and Uniform Division officers carry pepper spray.

Agents and officers are trained on standard shoulder weapons that include the FN P90 submachine gun,[45] the 9mm Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun, and the 12-gauge Remington 870 shotgun.[45] The continued use of the MP5 remains a source of controversy as many other federal agencies have moved away from submachine guns altogether and replaced them with assault rifles. Despite this, the agency has no current plans to replace this weapon.[16]

The current sidearm for USSS agents is the Sig Sauer P229 chambered in .357 SIG, which entered service in 1999, and also the FN Five-seven pistol.[45] A variety of off duty, back up, and undercover weapons are also authorized.[16]

Current weapons

The M4 carbine was utilized by agents of the Counter Assault Team from the early 1990s until 2006 when it was replaced by the SR-16 carbine.

The Thompson submachine gun was replaced by the Uzi submachine gun in the 1970s. Uzis utilized by the Secret Service have the common characteristic of slightly shorter than standard barrels. This was due to the fact that the weapons had to be modified to fit inside standard size Samsonite briefcases used to conceal them. The Uzi was phased out in the mid 1990s and replaced by the H&K MP5. The Secret Service was the last Federal agency to use the Uzi.

By 1992, the standard issue weapon became the SIG Sauer P228 9mm pistol. This weapon stayed in service through 1999.

Between 1981 and 1991, the Secret Service issued the Smith & Wesson Model 19 and the Smith & Wesson Model 66 .357 Magnum revolvers, with 2.5-inch barrels all the way up to the 4-inch-barreled models, loaded with hollow-point rounds.

Following President Kennedy's assassination, USSS Special Agents were authorized to carry the .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 19 revolver.

Initially the firearms were privately procured and there was little if any standardization. In the 1930s, the USSS issued the Colt M1911A1 pistol in .45 ACP caliber. In the 1950s and 1960s, Special Agents carried the Smith & Wesson Model 36 and Colt Detective Special 38 Special revolvers.

Previous firearms

Since the agency's inception, a variety of weapons have been carried by its agents.

Weapons and equipment

Criminal Law, Laws of Arrest, Search and Seizure, Control Tactics, Civil Liability, Emergency Medicine, Basic Water Safety, Firearms and Weapons Handling, Radio Communications, Emergency Driving and Physical Fitness Training.

Newly appointed special officers must successfully complete eight (8) weeks of intensive training at the Special Officer Basic Training Course at the Secret Service James J. Rowley Training Center just outside of Washington, D.C. The training includes courses such as:

Assignments may include maintaining designated protective security posts; controlling the movement of persons into and around multiple Secret Service facilities and associated areas; inspecting all operational, safety, emergency, and convenience equipment of protective vehicles to ensure peak operating condition; driving protective or follow-up vehicles; monitoring and operating various communications equipment; and employing various advanced x-ray screening technologies in order to detect and identify high-risk items. Special officers are sworn law enforcement officers and are authorized to make arrests in connection with their official duties.

Special officers (not to be confused with Uniformed Division Officers) work within the Special Agent Division of the USSS and perform a wide range of security functions and support assignments as part of the protective mission for the Secret Service. Where special agents will alternate between protection and investigation assignments special officers are hired only to work protection details. They must have a familiarity with all phases of protective responsibilities sufficient to assist in protective movements, cover designated security posts and drive protective vehicles.

Special Officer

A Secret Service agent's career consists of three phases. During phase one Secret Service special agents spend their first 6 to 8 years on-the-job assigned to a field office. After their field experience, agents are usually transferred to a protective detail where they will stay for 4 to 7 years, during what is known as phase two or the protection phase. Following their protective assignment, many agents return to the field, transfer to a headquarters office, a training office, or other Washington, D.C.,-based assignment for phase three of their career. Promotions will affect the typical career path. An agent's working hours depend upon the assignment. Generally, an agent can expect to travel a lot and do a significant amount of shift work, especially during phase two. Throughout their career agents continue their training.

Special Agents receive basic training in two locations. The first phase, the Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP) is conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) at Glynco, GA. The second phase, the Special Agent Training Course (SATC) is conducted at the James J. Rowley Training Center, located in Beltsville, MD.

Secret Service agents (foreground, right) guard President George W. Bush in 2008.

At a minimum, a prospective agent must be a U.S. citizen, possess a current valid driver's license, possess visual acuity no worse than 20/60 uncorrected, correctable to 20/20 in each eye, and be between the ages of 21 and 37 at the time of appointment. However, preference eligible veterans may apply after age 37. In 2009, the Office of Personnel Management issued implementation guidance on the Isabella v. Department of State court decision: OPM Letter.[44]

Special Agent

The Secret Service Uniformed Division's statutory authority is set out in Title 18, §3056A of the U. S. Code.

The Magnetometer Support Unit: Formed to ensure that all persons entering secure areas occupied by Secret Service protectees are unarmed,[43] the Secret Service began relying on magnetometer (metal detector) support by Uniformed Division officers to augment its protective efforts away from the White House following the attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.

Officers assigned to CS, ERT, and K9, are designated "Technicians" to recognize their advanced training. Today these units are part of the agency's Special Operations Division.

The Emergency Response Team (ERT): Formed in 1992, ERT's primary mission is to provide tactical response to unlawful intrusions and other protective challenges related to the White House and its grounds. ERT personnel receive specialized, advanced training and must maintain a high level of physical and operational proficiency.[43]

The Canine Explosives Detection Unit (K-9): Created in 1976, the mission of the K-9 unit is to provide skilled and specialized explosives detection support to protective efforts involving Secret Service protectees.[43]

The Counter Sniper Team (CS): Created in 1971, the CS's purpose is to provide specialized protective support to defend against long-range threats to Secret Service protectees.[43]

Officers are responsible for providing additional support to the Secret Service's protective mission through the following special support groups:

The Uniformed Division is similar to the Vice President's Residence; the main Treasury Department building and its annex facility; and foreign diplomatic missions in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.[42]

A 2013 Ford Police Interceptor of the US Secret Service Uniformed Division is pictured outside the White House in Washington, DC, in July of 2013.

Uniformed Division

[41] Arrest and indictment of

Operation Firewall: In October 2004, 28 suspects—located across eight U.S. states and six countries—were arrested on charges of identity theft, computer fraud, credit-card fraud, and conspiracy. Nearly 30 national and foreign field offices of the U.S. Secret Service, including the newly established national ECTFs, and countless local enforcement agencies from around the globe, were involved in this operation. Collectively, the arrested suspects trafficked in at least 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers, which amounted to $4.3 million of losses to financial institutions. However, authorities estimated prevented loss to the industry to be in hundreds of millions of dollars. This over year-long operation, which started in July 2003, led investigators to identify three cyber-criminal groups: Shadowcrew, Carderplanet, and Darkprofits.[40]

Arrest and indictment of Max Ray Butler, co-founder of the Carders Market carding website. Butler was indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after his September 5, 2007 arrest, on wire fraud and identity theft charges. According to the indictment, Butler hacked over the Internet into computers at financial institutions and credit card processing centers and sold the tens of thousands of credit card numbers that he acquired in the process.[39]

Significant investigations

After the near-successful assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, it was clear that the Secret Service needed to increase its efficiency to protect the President. [38] The

The period following the Kennedy assassination was the most difficult in the modern history of the agency. Press reports indicated that morale among the agents was "low" for months following the assassination.[34][35] The agency overhauled its procedures in the wake of the Kennedy killing. Training, which until that time had been confined largely to "on-the-job" efforts, was systematized and regularized.

Rufus Youngblood was riding in the vice-presidential car. When the shots were fired, he vaulted over the front seat and threw his body over Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.[31] That evening, Johnson called Secret Service Chief James J. Rowley and cited Youngblood's bravery.[32][33] Youngblood would later recall some of this in his memoir, Twenty Years in the Secret Service.

Secret Service agents in response to the assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr. on March 30, 1981

The Kennedy assassination spotlighted the bravery of two Secret Service agents. First, an agent protecting Mrs. Kennedy, Clint Hill, was riding in the car directly behind the presidential limousine only when the attack began. While the shooting continued, Hill leapt from the running board of the car he was riding on and jumped onto the back of the President's moving car and guided Mrs. Kennedy from the trunk back into the rear seat of the car. He then shielded the President and the First Lady with his body until the car arrived at the hospital.

Since the 1960s, Presidents John F. Kennedy (killed), Gerald Ford (twice attacked, but uninjured) and Ronald Reagan (seriously wounded) have been attacked while appearing in public.[27][28] Agents on scene though not injured during attacks on Presidents include William Greer, and Roy Kellerman. One of the agents was Robert DeProspero, the Special Agent In Charge (SAIC) of Reagan's Presidential Protective Division (PPD) from January 1982 to April 1985. DeProspero was deputy to Jerry Parr, the SAIC of PPD during the Reagan assassination attempt on March 30, 1981.[29][30]

Attacks on presidents

Another incident involved a violation of procedure in which an armed security guard for the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa. The guard used his phone to record video of Obama and refused to comply with a request to stop.[25] The guard had been arrested multiple times in the past, but had never been convicted of a crime.[26]

In September 2014, the United States Secret Service came under criticism following two high-profile incidents involving intruders at the White House. One such intruder entered the White House the East Room through an unlocked door.[24]

As of 2010, the Service had over 6,500 employees: 3,200 Special Agents, 1,300 Uniformed Division Officers, and 2,000 technical and administrative employees.[23] Special agents serve on protective details, special teams or sometimes investigate certain financial and homeland security-related crimes.


The overseas network includes ECTFs in the following European cities:

  • Network intrusions,
  • Identity theft,
  • Other computer-related crimes affecting financial and other critical infrastructures.

Both task forces are said to concentrate on a wide range of "computer-based criminal activity," including:

On July 6, 2009, the U.S. Secret Service expanded its fight on cyber-crime by creating the first European Electronic Crimes Task Force, based on the successful U.S. domestic model, through a memorandum of understanding with Italian police and postal officials. Over a year later, on August 9, 2010, the agency expanded its European involvement by creating its second overseas ECTF in the United Kingdom.[21][22]

International expansion

The network includes ECTFs in the following 28 U.S. cities:
  • Significant economic or community impact,
  • Participation of multiple-district or transnational organized criminal groups,
  • Use of new technology as a means to commit crime.

The network prioritizes investigations that meet the following criteria:


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