The Secret Service is more than just a team of agents in suits. It’s a world filled with secrets, skills, and surprising facts many people don’t know about.
This introduction explores some of the most unexpected and interesting things about this elite group. From their unique training methods to their historical roles, these facts will give you a new perspective on protecting some of the country’s most important people. Get ready to discover the lesser-known sides of the Secret Service that are both fascinating and eye-opening.
Lincoln Authorized The Secret Service Hours Before Being Shot
The Secret Service has been around for more than a century after being formed in April 1865 by Abraham Lincoln as part of the Department of the Treasury, just hours before the 16th president was assassinated. William P. Wood was sworn in as the first Secret Service Chief. Today, that position is known as the “Director”.
Original Mission Wasn’t To Protect The President
The Secret Service’s original mission had nothing to do with protecting the president. Instead, they were tasked with cracking down on counterfeit U.S. currency that threatened to disrupt the economy.
It First Protected President Grover Cleveland (Part-Time)
The Secret Service’s first presidential detail was the “informal” protection of President Grover Cleveland in 1894. In 1901 after the assassination of President William McKinley, Congress asked for Secret Service protection of all U.S. presidents.
Only One Secret Service Agent Died In The Line Of Duty
While protecting President Harry Truman, two Puerto Rican nationalists rushed the house Truman was temporarily staying in during renovations to the White House. Secret Service agent Leslie Coffelt was killed in the fight after returning fire and shooting one of the assassins in the head.
Code Names For Public Figures
The Secret Service uses code names for Presidents, Vice Presidents, the first lady, and other prominent people and places to protect identities from those who might be listening. For instance, Ronald Reagan’s code name was “Rawhide”. Nancy’s code name was “Rainbow”.
Nine Secret Service Agents formed the FBI
In 1908, the Justice Department hired nine Secret Service agents to conduct investigations inside the United States. The nine agents subsequently formed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from those investigations.
Secret Service’s Pre-Work Often Goes Unseen
While Secret Service agents are always around the President, most don’t notice the days of work before the President arrives at different locations. The Secret Service routinely arrives early at scheduled Presidential appearances to secure the area and set up a secure perimeter.
Only About Half Protect Public Figures
Of the 7,000+ employees working for the Secret Service, about 3,500 serve as bodyguards for public figures like the President and Vice President (and former presidents). About 1,650 are responsible for securing venues where the president and other figures appear. Over 2,000 work behind the scenes on logistics, transportation routes, escape plans, etc.
Former Presidents Get Protection For The Rest Of Their Lives
The Secret Service is tasked with protecting former presidents for the rest of their lives. The former president can, however, decline Secret Service protection and instead hire their own protective services if they choose. Current presidents cannot decline protection.
The Secret Service Would Follow A President To Prison
There are no exceptions to the protection of a former president other than the President refusing the service. That means if a former president goes to prison, the Secret Service will protect that president in prison.