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United States Secret Service - Worthy of Trust and Confidence
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Who We Are

 

History

More Than a Century of Service Worthy of Trust and Confidence

The United States Secret Service began as an agency dedicated to the investigation of crimes related to the Treasury, and then evolved into the United States' most recognized protection agency. The Secret Service was a part of the Department of the Treasury until March 1, 2003, when it became a part of the Department of Homeland Security.

For more than 140 years, the Secret Service has delivered unsurpassed investigative and protective services with the highest degree of loyalty and integrity. We are a leading federal law enforcement agency today because we have sustained a high degree of trust and confidence, exceeding expectations throughout our history.

Our leaders have helped define and expand the foundations and value of our service, from our first Chief William Wood to our current Director Mark Sullivan. The story of our history, importance of our mission and dedication of our workforce continues to drive us forward as we embark upon future achievements.

The United States Secret Service Evolution and Continued Success

Among the nation’s federal law enforcement agencies, the Secret Service is one of the few that has held such a long history of dedication. This is due largely to our continued achievements, skilled workforce and ability to adapt to our nation’s needs as times, and threats, change. While most associate the Secret Service with presidential protection, our original mandate was to investigate the counterfeiting of U.S. currency, a mission still carried out today. The reason for this dual focus originates from the early 20th century, when it quickly became apparent there was a critical need for presidential protection at a time of limited federal services, resources and necessary skills.

Beginnings

With an estimated one-third to one-half of the currency in circulation being counterfeit, the Secret Service was commissioned on July 5, 1865 in Washington, D.C., as the "Secret Service Division" of the Department of the Treasury and was originally tasked with the suppression of counterfeiting. At the time, the only other federal law enforcement agencies were the U.S. Park Police, Post Office Department, Postal Inspection Service and the Marshals Service. The Marshals did not have the workforce to investigate all crime under federal jurisdiction, so the Secret Service was used to investigate everything from murder to illegal gambling.

After the assassination of William McKinley in 1901, Congress informally requested that the Secret Service begin to provide presidential protection. A year later, the Secret Service assumed full-time responsibility for protection of the President.

Expansion

Under constantly changing security environments, in which political leaders, major events and the U.S. economy continue to be ripe targets for criminals with varying motives, the Secret Service is called upon time and again.

Congress enacted legislation in 1951 that permanently authorized Secret Service protection of the President, his immediate family, the President-elect, and the Vice President. In 1968, as a result of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination, Congress authorized protection of major presidential and vice presidential candidates and nominees. Congress also authorized lifetime protection of the spouses of deceased Presidents and children of former Presidents until they reach the age of 16.

Through continued achievements and a proven ability to adapt to evolving needs and demands, the Secret Service adopted further jurisdiction throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The Executive Protective Service was officially renamed the Secret Service Uniformed Division on November 15, 1977. An increase in protective responsibilities now encompassed visiting heads of a foreign state or government, their accompanying spouse and foreign diplomatic missions located throughout the U.S. and its territories. An increase in investigative responsibilities now encompassed violations relating to credit and debit card fraud, federal-interest computer fraud and fraudulent identification documents.

It was in 1990 that the Secret Service received jurisdiction to conduct any kind of investigation, civil or criminal, related to federally insured financial institutions. Additionally, Congress passed legislation in 1994 stating that Presidents who enter office after January 1, 1997 will receive Secret Service protection for 10 years after leaving office, while those who entered office prior to January 1, 1997 would continue to receive lifetime protection.

The Presidential Threat Protection Act was passed, establishing National Special Security Events (NSSEs) by Executive Order in 1998 and making the Secret Service the federal agency responsible for security at events given such a designation.

Today

In 2001, the USA PATRIOT Act mandated the Secret Service to establish a nationwide network of Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTFs), a network bringing together not only federal, state and local law enforcement, but also prosecutors, private industry and academia aimed at combating technology based crimes. The common purpose is the prevention, detection, mitigation and aggressive investigation of attacks on the nation's financial and critical infrastructures.

Effective March 1, 2003, the Secret Service was transferred from the Department of the Treasury to the newly established Department of Homeland Security. In 2009, the Secret Service made nearly 2,866 criminal arrests for counterfeiting, cyber investigations and other financial crimes, 98% of which resulted in convictions, and removed more than $182 million in counterfeit U.S. currency from circulation.

Today, the Secret Service continues to protect our nation’s leaders, visiting world leaders and the integrity of the nation’s financial systems. With a rich tradition of service to the nation and its people, the agency continues to evolve, adding a variety of duties to our original charter.



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