Today's Secret Service is made up of
approximately 4,600 employees. These men and women comprise the Special
Agent Division and the Uniformed Division. They also provide technical
support and clerical help. The Secret Service has offices throughout the
United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. It also has
international liasion offices in Paris, London, Bonn, Rome, and Bangkok.
Do you know if the Secret Service has a field office in your hometown?
Many citizens, young and old, write to the
President to ask him questions
about the Secret Service. Here are a few of the most frequently asked
questions about this unique agency within our federal government.
Why do the agents look as if they're talking into their sleeves?
The Secret Service has its own unique
communications system. To protect
the President, all of the agents on duty must know where the President is
at all times. Each agent has an earpiece that allows him or her to hear
other Secret Service personnel and to receive directions from a special
command center. Much like an air traffic controller who is helping
pilots land airplanes, agents at the command center are able to alert
agents to information they need. Connected to the special earpiece is a
small microphone that rests just inside the agent's sleeve, allowing him
or her to easily communicate simply by speaking into the microphone next
to the agent's wrist.
Why do some agents have dogs with them?
Before entering the White House grounds, cars and packages must be
inspected by K-9 teams such as Officer William Hernandez and his dog
In the 1970s, the Secret Service created the
K-9 division, which paired
specially trained dogs with handlers, or K-9 Technicians. These special
dogs have been trained to detect drugs, explosives, and firearms.
Although German Shepherds were first used, the Secret Service now uses
only Belgian Malinois dogs from Holland. Known for their adaptability to
new climates and environments and their work drive, these dogs are
exceptional members of the Secret Service. They generally work 7-11
years in the Secret Service and grow to an average 75 pounds. At night,
after a busy day's work, they go home with their handlers, where they are
a part of the family.
Why do some agents wear suits and others wear
Special agents, the ones you usually see with
the President, do not wear
uniforms. This helps the agents blend in with crowds so that they are
not easily detectable. Those who are in the Uniformed Division wear
uniforms because their jobs require them to be recognized as police
officers. Many of these officers are posted at different areas around
the White House, in front of embassies, and at the Vice President's
I like to ride my bike a lot. I've seen officers outside
the White House on bikes. What do they do?
The Bike Patrol plays a unique role within the
Secret Service. By using
bicycles, officers can easily chase a suspicious individual who is
walking near the White House, and patrol the very large White House
compound -- which comprises not only the White House itself, but the areas
immediately surrounding it -- much faster than on foot.
The Bike Patrol helps keep the streets surrounding the
White House secure.
I went on a White House tour with my
all had to go through metal detectors before we could go inside. Why?
Everyone who comes through the White House
must pass through a metal
detector, or magnetometer. This special machine alerts the Secret
Service to any potential weapons that are being brought into the
complex. Going through a magnetometer not only protects the First Family
and the White House, but also protects tourists and other White House
visitors from anyone who might be trying to cause harm.
Do Socks and Buddy have their own Secret Service
While the Secret Service is responsible for
protecting the White House
and its inhabitants, Socks and Buddy do not have their own agents. In
fact, Socks is delighted when he can slip into an open closet or onto a
windowsill to take a quick nap, without an agent alerting Buddy to know
where to find him!
Special Agent Lisa Risley
How can I become a Secret Service agent?
The Secret Service is always interested in
Requirements for each position within the agency vary. If you would like
information on becoming an agent or an officer, you may write to the
Secret Service at the following address:
United States Secret Service
1800 G Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20223
[Back to Previous Issues]