The United States Secret Service,
the protocols are born out of blood.
They may seem dramatic,
but it’s actually a necessary process
to understand past incidents,
failures and successes.
[Woman] God, oh my God!
To ensure that threats are fully mitigated
for future protectees.
My name is Jonathan Wackrow, I spent 14 years
in the U.S. Secret Service as a special agent.
I joined the United States Secret Service
just prior to nine, 11,
I was assigned to the New York Field Office
as a criminal investigator.
And 2008, went to Washington, D.C. where I was assigned
to the Secretary of Homeland Security’s detail,
then just after the election of President Obama
I went to the president’s detail
which allowed me the opportunity
to plan and coordinate trips both domestically and abroad
for the President and First Lady.
So the approach that the Secret Service takes
is a very proactive advanced process,
we think about three main areas.
We think about what are we gonna do
in a tactical or crisis situation?
What are we gonna do in a medical situation?
And what are we gonna do
if we have to relocate this protectee?
And those are the big three,
there are subcategories to all of them,
but every agent and officer’s constantly thinking
about what am I going to do?
What is my personal protection plan?
And what is my plan for my protectee?
We’re never complacent
because the moment that we become complacent,
complacency kills and something happens.
When the President goes to any location,
the methodology is to set up
concentric rings of protection
around where he’s going to be.
That starts with the inside of a building.
The dais, if he’s giving a speech,
how do we build out a security program from there?
First, we look at where the President’s gonna stand.
We try to mitigate any line of sight issues that may occur,
we wanna make sure that that environment is secure.
I wanna be able to fortify my perimeter,
I want access control.
I wanna fully understand how I mitigate everybody
that’s coming into that environment,
that’s the metal detectors,
that’s the explosive detection,
that is the utilization of different technology
to ensure that we’re always putting the president
in the most safe location, regardless of where it is.
When a Secret Service Advanced Agent
goes into a location that the President,
or any of our other protectees are gonna go into,
they’re looking at that space much differently
than the average citizen.
Everything from the HVAC, the air conditioning units,
how does that affect my environment?
Can someone introduce in an aerosol spray
from a clean air intake from the outside,
and affect myself or the protectee?
I’m looking at the lighting, who controls it?
Can that room get dark real fast,
and an attack it launched?
How many entrances are there?
Is there a set of stairs that can lead up from a basement?
Is there an access way into the kitchen area?
I wanna understand all of the access points
into that location.
Once that room fills up with people,
I wanna understand what are the crowd dynamics
gonna be in that space?
In the event that something happens,
it could be something administrative,
like a medical emergency, how is that crowd gonna react?
What are they going to do?
And what that crowd is going to do,
is gonna be the opposite
to what I’m gonna do with my protectee
’cause I wanna be able to quickly and effectively
remove myself from that situation.
Once that environment is established,
how do we maintain it the entire duration
that the President’s there?
I’m looking at the perimeter of that location.
That perimeter can be our local law enforcement presence
that’s now allowing us to keep the general public
away from this protective site,
that moves out even further.
We start looking at long-range issues
that I need to address.
I need aerial surveillance,
I need the ability to understand
what that airspace looks like above me,
I need to understand
if I’m near a terrain features such as water,
how do I mitigate the vulnerability
that’s coming from that waterway?
So do I need police boats out there?
That starts to become that outer ring.
So protective methodology in these concentric rings,
you wanna address those types of threats
as far out as possible.
That’s really the trade craft,
and it comes down to experience.
It comes down to constant training,
and communication and awareness of your environment.
Oftentimes, people look at the president,
and they have blinders on.
They don’t even realize that their own action
or what they’re doing around the president.
Here we see a young woman
who starts hugging the president and doesn’t let go.
She’s not doing that out of malice,
she’s just starstruck that the President is there.
The Secret Service has to be mindful that
this isn’t a threat
that’s gonna take the President’s life,
but it is nettlesome, we have to address this
because it can cause a safety issue
in the operating environment for the President.
A lot of times the actions
that Secret Service Agents take
are not even realized by the people in the crowd.
Here, we see a special agent in charge,
and other agents carefully removing the arm
of the individual away from the President.
The President doesn’t realize what’s happening,
nor does the individual, but this is traderaft,
this is what they train for and it happens right here.
What we’re seeing here, is then candidate Trump speaking,
someone aggressively comes towards the podium,
Secret Service agent is immediately up onto the stage,
the shift comes up with them,
they provide 360 degrees of cover.
Once the threat is taken away,
the President can go back to giving his speech.
So as dynamically as a threat rises,
they can also be mitigated just as fast.
Social media is just instant information,
and it can be factual or disinformation.
That social media is a challenge
for any protective construct,
whether it’s the Secret Service, any government entity,
or in private security, because information is dispersed
and can go viral very quickly.
[planes engines roars]
There are times that the Secret Service,
in conjunction with the military and the White House,
take the President on a classified trip.
Previously, that action was much easier,
we can go under the cover of darkness,
we could deploy a low profile protective methodology
where we’re not going around with lights,
and sirens, and a big police motorcade.
Problem with social media today is
everything becomes public.
So the example of the president going over to Iraq,
the disclosure of that became public
when Air Force One was seen over the United Kingdom.
And someone took a picture of it, posted it online,
and instantaneously, every news service
around the world realized the President was in the air.
And then trying to track that aircraft becomes easier,
and now we have the President’s location
on a classified mission.
You can just think about how dangerous that is
for the United States Secret Service,
the military, and the President himself.
Social media is a challenge,
not for just understanding where our protectees are.
It’s also a new pathway for threats,
and social media has become this superhighway
for making threats against protectees.
But everything threat that comes
into the Secret Service has to be investigated.
The pathway of social media doesn’t change that
’cause now messages come in every single day
that are either direct or veiled threats
that have to be investigated the same way.
The means, opportunity, intent
for somebody to cause harm to our protectee.
The threat environment is very dynamic and unpredictable,
Secret Service is mindful of that,
so we have to constantly look back and say,
How do we get better?
Yes, we came out of that environment, nothing happened.
But is there something that we could have done better?
[Announcer] With police [muffled speech],
and here is the President of the United States.
If you look back at the Kennedy assassination,
no one had thought that someone would try to shoot
the president from a long-range,
as they were traveling in a motorcade.
Think about how difficult that shot is to make
it’s a moving target, it’s small from a distance.
So when the Secret Service at that time was looking at it,
they were always mindful that there is a probability
that an event like that could happen,
but the likelihood was pretty small
for that high-impact situation.
Well, calculation was wrong.
So on this day in Dallas, we saw some things
that worked really well.
We saw that Secret Service Agents that are located here,
and here, are able to quickly react to anything
that may affect the President or the First Lady.
What’s different here this time, as compared to today
is the motorcade route itself, how it’s secured.
Back then on either side of the motorcade, as you’ll see,
the crowd can get very close.
So at any moment, someone could step into the crowd
and block that motorcade.
Today, based upon what we know,
we ensure that all presidential motorcades
have some sort of barrier,
and are posted by law enforcement
to ensure that threats can’t come,
and cross across in front of the motorcade.
Additionally, what we’re seeing in this angle is,
is a great view of the President and the First Lady,
you’ll never see that today, why?
Because after this tragic day in American history,
the Secret Service learned a very vital lesson,
never to allow the President of the United States
to ride in an open air vehicle.
The Secret Service would rather have the president
in an armored vehicle away from the public
where they’re not engaging, thus reducing the risk.
However, that’s just not feasible in today’s environment.
So what we have to do is, we have to stage engagement
between the President and the public very carefully.
Here we see a video of President Obama
from the inauguration getting out of this limo.
This is a carefully coordinated event,
where they had a very specific security construct
built around it to ensure, even though they are in open air
and in the public, all threads
within all concentric rings are being mitigated.
Our protective methodology hasn’t changed,
we’re providing 360 degrees of coverage.
We’re seeing the crowds
are completely separated by barricades.
So we will not have a surge onto the motorcade route,
there’s also police postings here, here, here,
every seven feet there was another member
of the law enforcement or military community
that was providing security for this event.
Every agent in this image has a very specific role,
they’re there to immediately respond
to the President or the First Lady,
and immediately bring them back to the limousine
for protection in the event of a crisis situation.
As you’ll see, we have agents that are flanked
on the left and right hand sides
who are there to address the threats,
if anyone was to immediately come over the barricade.
The supervisors are in close proximity,
and they’re there to cover and evacuate
these protectees and get them to safety.
Here we see in September 1975,
president Ford leaving a hotel in San Francisco.
Just after leaving the hotel,
President Ford’s walking towards his vehicle,
at the same moment an assailant across the street,
Sarah Jane Moore fired a weapon.
The Secret Service, taking the emergency action drill
that they had trained for, took the president
and covered and evacuated him.
We’re seeing the absolute right things here being done
by the Secret Service Agents.
The President is here, they’re covering him.
They’re putting him down behind the armor,
they’re trying to get him into the limo,
but a fateful lesson was learned,
the limousine door was not open.
Ever since this day, every time the President
is near a limousine, near armor that door is open
because that’s our safe haven.
Another lesson the Secret Service learned
was the day that President Reagan
left the Washington Hilton, and was shot.
In the moments that the assassination attempt had occurred,
all the agents that you’re seeing here and here
are starting to face the protectee.
The lesson learned from President Ford
that we saw earlier, this limo door is open.
One of the key elements of a Secret Service Agent,
is putting yourself between the threat and the protectee.
Here we saw our Secret Service Agent make themselves big,
they absorb the threat, in this instance of firearm.
This action alone saved the President’s life
because it allowed for President Reagan
to be put right into the limo.
We mitigated a potential loss of life
by instituting a policy because of President Ford
always to have the limo door open.
Imagine the tragic scenario that we’d be in
if this door was not open at that time,
or the Secret Service Agent
didn’t react the way that they did.
As we have seen, the protective model evolves over time,
the Secret Service is always trying
to evolve and get better.
They’re reassessing every action that they take
on every single trip to ensure a more holistic
and secure environment for the protectees.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that
our protectees always remain a target.
But how is the threat changed?
What are the different tactics that have used?
They’ve become more dynamic
because our mandate is protection, we have to put ourselves
between the threat and the protectee.
And that means that we have to stand up tall
when there’s gunfire,
we have to go address the threat head-on,
we have to become the stop-the-barrier between that threat
whether it’s a sharp edged weapon, a gun, doesn’t matter.
We have to stand in between that threat and the protectee.
We understand that it’s just not normal [chuckles]
to wanna put yourself in between a gun and a protectee.
But there’s a greater calling here,
and we have to think about what we’re protecting,
and what that mission is.