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The United States Secret Service (USSS) is an American federal law enforcement agency that is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The sworn members are divided among the Special Agents and the Uniformed Division. Until March 1, 2003, the Service was part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
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. 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 (per an agreement with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) Office of Foreign Missions (OFM), etc.)
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 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Since the 1960s, Presidents John F. Kennedy (killed), Gerald Ford (twice attacked, but uninjured) and Ronald Reagan
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 on to 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.
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, 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.
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The USA Patriot Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001, mandated the U.S. Secret Service to establish a nationwide network of Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTFs) to investigate and prevent attacks on financial and critical infrastructures in the United States. As such, this mandate expanded on the agency’s first ECTF—the New York Electronic Crimes Task Force, formed in 1995—which brought together federal, state and local law enforcement, prosecutors, private-industry companies, and academia.
USSS agents carry the SIG Sauer P229 chambered for the .357 SIG or the FN Five-seveN pistol as sidearms. Agents and Officers are also trained on shoulder weapons such as the Remington 870 shotgun and the FN P90 and HK MP5 submachine guns.
Special tactical units such as the Counter Assault Team (CAT) and the Emergency Response Team (ERT) are equipped with the Knight’s Armament Company SR-16 assault rifle chambered for 5.56×45mm ammunition.
Uniform Division technicians assigned to the Counter Sniper (CS) team use custom built .300 Winchester Magnum bolt-action rifles referred to as JAR’s (“Just Another Rifle”), along with 7.62mm KAC SR-25/Mk11 Mod 0 semi-automatic sniper rifles.
As a less-than-lethal option, Special Agents and Uniformed Division Officers are armed with the ASP expandable baton.