Chase Darnell and Carson Smith

U.S Secret Service
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Brief Summary

The U.S. Secret Service is one of the oldest law enforcement agencies currently operating within the U.S. congressional authority. Many U.S. citizens are unaware of the actual duties the U.S. Secret Service performs. The U.S. Secret Service is involved with counterfeit U.S. obligations, plots to assassinate our countries leadership, terroristic threats, and both financial and computer-based crimes (Ryan). The protective duties of the Secret Service have been
greatly expanded since their initial legislation.


The U.S. Secret Service was created on July 5th, 1865 in Washington D.C. by congressional legislation to put an end to counterfeit money in the U.S (The U.S). One third of our countries money was found to be counterfeit. Chief William P. Wood was sworn in as the first director (Kessler). Director Wood appointed 7 “operatives” to work in the New York City area to detect major counterfeit rings. These operatives were very successful in shutting down these rings to give our country a greater confidence in the U.S. currency. The U.S. Secret Service responsibilities were broadened to include “detecting persons perpetrating frauds against the government.” This appropriation resulted in investigations into the Ku Klux Klan, non-conforming distillers, smugglers, mail robbers, land frauds, and a number of other financial infractions against the federal laws. Also the number of “operatives” was increased to fulfill these responsibilities. Due to the large number of these “operatives” the first commission book and a new badge were issued to these “operatives”. A commission book gives one the authority to perform assigned duties regulated by the U.S. government. A significant date in the U.S Secret Service history was 1901, when congress informally requested Secret Service presidential protection on a limited basis following the assassination of President William McKinley. Until this time all past presidents walked freely among the U.S. populous without any security detail at all. The following year in 1902, the Secret Service assumed a full-time responsibility to protect the president. Two operatives were assigned full time to the new White House protection detail. In 1906, congress passed legislation that provided congressional funding for presidential funding by the Secret Service. That same year congress also authorized the Secret Service to begin investigating Western land frauds. These investigations were brought about land grants issued by states and territories which in some cases were fraudulently obtained by various criminal elements. In 1908, congress expanded the U.S. Secret Service jurisdiction to protect the president elect. President Roosevelt also transferred 7 Secret Service agents to the department of justice, they formed the nucleus of what is now know as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The next several decades saw an increase in the Secret Services law enforcement authority. In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson directed the Secretary of the Treasury to have the Secret Service investigate espionage. The Secret Service was under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department because many of their investigations concerned financial crimes. It is interesting to note at the conclusion of the First World War these espionage investigations were transferred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Congress began giving the secret service additional protective responsibilities. In 1917, congress authorized a permanent protective detail for the president’s intermediate family. They also authorized anyone making threats to the President a federal violation. In 1922, congress created The White House Police Force at the request president Warren G. Harding. Up until this point in was not uncommon for private citizen to knock on the front door of the White House and ask to speak to the President, members of his family, or presidential staff. In 1930, this White House police force was placed under the supervision of the Secret Service. The White House and its occupants were now protected with a full time 24 hour a day security by the expanding White House Police Force.
In 1951, congress enacted legislation that permanently authorized protection for the vice president of the U.S. Congress further authorized the protection of previous presidents in 1961. In 1962, this law expanded coverage for the protection of the vice president-elect. In 1963, congress passed legislation for secret service protection of Mrs. John F. Kennedy and her minor children for two years ( United). In 1965, congress increased the authorization to protect former presidents and their spouses during their lifetime and minor children until age 16 (Blaine). After Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination in June, 1968 congress authorized the protection of major presidential and vice presidential candidates and nominees. Congress also authorized the protection of widows of presidents until death or remarriage, and their children until age 16.
In 1970, the White House Police was renamed the Executive Protective Service (EPS). Their duties were increased to include the protection of the White House Complex and also included the protection of all diplomatic missions in the Washington D.C. area. Foreign Missions in Maryland and Northern Virginia were also awarded these protective responsibilities. This greatly increased the staffing of the EPS since it now created the White House Division and the Foreign Missions Divisions with 24 hour, 7 day a week security. In 1977, the EPS was officially renamed the U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division.
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In 1971, congress authorized Secret Service protection for visiting heads of a foreign state or government, or other official guest authorized by the President. President Nixon appealed to congress to pass this legislation as a result of a visiting head of state being spat upon by protestors. In 1984, congress enacted legislation making the fraudulent use of credit or debit cards a federal violation. This law authorized the Secret Service to investigate violations relating to credit and debit card fraud, federal-interest computer fraud, and fraudulent identification documents. In 1986, congress authorized merging the TPF into the U.S. Secret Service Division. The Treasury Police Force is dedicated to the physical security of the U.S. Treasury Building and its contents. Due to the fact that our U.S currency is produced in the final stages ridged security of this building and its contents is imperative.
In 1990, congress authorized concurrent jurisdiction with the department of justice law enforcement personal to conduct any kind of investigation, criminal or civil, related to federally insured financial institutions. In 1994, with the passage of the 1994 Crime Bill Public Law 103-122, Title 18, United States Code 470, provides that any person manufacturing or possessing counterfeit U.S. currency abroad may be prosecuted as if the act occurred within the United States. This law was made to prosecute individuals involved with the counterfeiting of U.S. currency called “Super Note”. This counterfeit was extremely well made and very difficult for the average citizen to detect.
In 2000, congress passed the Presidential Threat Protection Act; this authorized the Secret Service, in part, to participate in the planning, coordination, implementation, of security operations at special events of national significant, as determined by the President. These events are multi-law enforcement related such as the Presidential inauguration, the Olympics events and ceremonies, and other major national special events. In 2001, the Patriot Act increased the Secret Services role in investigating fraud, and related computer activity. It also authorized the Director of the Secret Service to establish in suppressing computer-based crimes. This Act also increased penalties for the manufacturing, possession, and dealing of counterfeit U.S. or foreign currency or bonds (United).
In 2002, the Department of Homeland Security was established as a result of the attacks on 9/11 (Melanson). With the passage of this legislation various law enforcement organizations were transfer to this new department. Effective March 1, 2003 the Secret Service was transfer from the Department of the Treasury to the Department of Homeland Security. In 2006, the current number of Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Forces expanded from 15 to the current number or 24. These nationwide multi-law enforcement task forces are dedicated to fighting high-tech computer-based crimes. These task forces have been very successful in combating all types of computer-based crimes using a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement approach. It should also be noted that the Secret Service and employ specialized private contractors to assist in these multi-jurisdictional investigations.


Currently the Secret Service employs 4,500 men and women. It was interesting to find out that the Secret Service was one of the first Federal agencies to employ women as special agents. In 1971, the Secret Service hired 7 female special agents. They became invaluable in both undercover and protective assignments. Now there are currently hundreds of female special agents and many other minority agents assigned in over 50 field offices throughout the world. There are also many smaller resident agent offices that are under the major field office jurisdictions. The current budget for the Secret Service is 1.515 billion dollars. Their budget indicates that they support these field offices and protective responsibilities but many parts of their actual line item expenditures are classified.

Special Agents

Special Agents are one of the three field jobs that gathers a lot of public interest. As one of the oldest federal law enforcement agencies in the country, the Secret Service has dual missions that include investigations as well as protection. Special gents are During the course of their careers, special agents carry out assignments in both of these areas and must be available to be assigned to duty stations anywhere in the world.
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Uniformed Division

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The Uniformed Division of the United States Secret Service was founded as the White House Police Force in 1922, later it was fully a part of the Secret Service in 1930. Today the Uniformed Division has over 1,300 active officers today and are responsible for the security of the White House complex, the residence of the Vice President, the Department of the Treasury, and any foreign diplomatic missions to the D.C area. The Uniformed Division operates through a network of security posts, foot and bicycle patrols, and vehicle and motorcycle patrols. This division is also responsible for aiding programs like the Counter Sniper Support Unit, the Canine Explosives Detection Unit, the Emergency Response Team, and Metal Detectors.

Special Officers

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Special Officers must preform a very wide range of security functions and support, all of this in the goal of total security by the Secret Service. Assignments include maintaining protective security, inspecting operational, safety, emergency and convenience equipment for vehicles. Also driving protective vehicles, controlling persons entering Secret Service facilities and operating X-ray screening stations are more responsibilities that Special Operatives must undertake. They are also authorized to make arrests if it connects to their duties. To become a Special Officer for the Secret Service, a person must complete a rigorous eight week training program.

Final Comments

In closing, it has been interesting through research to see that this federal law enforcement agency has evolved with our current times. In the beginning their budget was less than 10,000 dollars. Now it exceeds over 1 billion dollars. It started with 7 operatives and a director to a current agency of 4,500 personal. This includes special agents, uniform division personal, security and computer specialist and administrative support personal (United).


1. “United States Secret Service.” United States Secret Service. United States Secret Service, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.

2. “The U.S. Secret Service in History.” The U.S. Secret Service in History. N.p., n.d. Web 25 Nov. 2012

3. Kessler, Ronald. In the Presidents Secret Service. 1st ed. New York: Crown Group, n.d. Print.

4. Ryan, Bernard. The Secret Service. New York: Chelsea House, 2011. Print.

5. Melanson, Phillip H., and Peter F. Stevens. The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2002. Print.

6. Blaine, Gerald, and Lisa McCubbin. The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence. New York: Gallery, 2010. Print.