Details on U.S. Secret Service employment (sniper?)

Any Dopers been in the U.S. Secret Service? How about a family member? Anyone with firsthand knowledge?

When the President makes a prolonged outdoor appearance (speech, rally, etc., I’ve been to one (Reagan, Charlotte N.C.)), in addition to the obvious Secret Service detail around him I have seen guys walking the rooftops and I could’ve sworn they were carrying rifles (obviously “friendlies”). What are they? Are they Sharpshooters? Snipers? (By the way, what’s the difference?)

Can anyone give me information about this job (sharpshooter, specifically)? I’m interested in things like…. What kind of background do they generally have (criminal justice degree, like law enforcement? maybe some military?)? Do people make a career of this? Or maybe, make a career in the Secret Service and “sharpshooter” is just one possible assignment?

And specifically, what’s the pay scale for a job like that? What’s the general pay scale for the Secret Service detail around the Pres? Is this classified info? Someone, somewhere must know someone who’s been in this line of work.

Do Secret Service guys (and women) aspire to the Pres detail? Why? More prestigious (than bailing Jenna’s drunk boyfriend out of jail)? Is there anything “higher” in pecking order than the Pres detail?

What training do Secret Service agents get? They are supposed to “take a bullet” for the Pres, right? How exactly does the S.Service measure this attribute in a candidate? “Loyalty”? “Willing to die for country”?

I looked through the Treasury/Secret Service website, but still have questions (above).

Without revealing any state secrets, what’s the Dope?

Looks to me like most of your questions would be answered here, especially in the FAQ.

However, under “Employment” I don’t see a listing for “sniper”. :smiley:

Betcha the people who really, really want to be snipers are steered into something completely different, assuming they even get picked up for the Secret squirrel guys.

To be merely considered for presidential detail requires that the candidate be the absolute cream of the Secret Service crop: psychologically rock solid, physically superior, mentally sharp, disciplined beyond belief, and keep a well-ordered private life (which would no longer be private). Any black mark in your history would almost certainly disqualify you. Superior achievement in a Special Forces unit wouldn’t hurt.

In a thread regarding employment with CIA, I gave a response that fits here too. Consider doing a search.

As far as being a counter-sniper, who knows? Again, see above and also show a flair for marksmanship. Anyone who holds a rifle for the FBI–particularly in downtown Washington, D.C.–has to be the best in every way.

(Please don’t dredge up Lon Horiuchi.)

They are sharpshooters, not snipers. They are referred to as such in news reports, like this one. Snipers are highly-skilled military professionals trained to select high-value targets and pick them off from concelaed locations at long distances. Sharpshooters are skilled riflemen who select targets of opportunity and do not act independently. Although it may seem a matter of semantics, there is a real, historical difference between the two. You can find a brief discussion of this debate here.

I’ve seen these guys up close many times. I live in Manchester, NH which hosts the Presidential candidates, their entourage and countless reporters every four years for months prior to the Primaries. It’s a zoo. I’ve only seen the sharpshooters when the President is in town, though. Ordinary candidates just get guys in suits, as far as I can tell. These sharpshooters are pretty casual guys. I once saw an agent in street clothes carrying a duffel bag full of rifles. A few days before an “event”, they scope out the area and select 2 or 3 rooftop sites, and work in pairs during the event, one as a spotter, one on a rifle.

While we’re on the subject, I once got past Secret Service with a weapon, although I didn’t know it at the time. I had gone to my local library to do some research only to discover that it was closed due to a fundraising event with Bill Clinton as the guest of honor. I stuck around to watch the festivities and passed through metal detectors whereupon I was searched, my bag was searched, and I was sniffed by dogs. They found nothing. I briefly met the President for the second time that year. When I got home and emptied my backpack, I discovered that I had left my pair of giant rusty scissors in with all my books. I’m just lucky I didn’t get arrested. :slight_smile:

Um… thanks (I think) Duck Duck, but like I said… I already tried the Treasury website you provided and still had questions, which is why I posted here in the first place.

What is the salary range for sharpshooters and Pres detail members, specifically? What is the career progression (uniformed White House agent, then plain-clothes specific (person) detail?)? Do they get promoted from “spotter” (the other member of a two-person sharpshooter squad)?

Is “sharpshooter” a promotion from “Pres detail”, or the other way around? <flirting with censure> Wouldn’t it be easier (hypothetically speaking) for one nutcase with a rife & scope to shoot the Pres from long distance, vs. a member of the immediate detail to do the same? (I’m assuming there are a fistfull of guys loaded to the teeth surrounding the Pres, very hard to penetrate up close, but perhaps “breachable” (is that a word?) from farther away?) If so, I would expect an even higher standard for sharpshooters, since they (hypothetically) are in the position to pose more of a threat to the Pres than a member of the immediate (close quarters) detail. (I realize I am speaking in terms of a close bodyguard being a threat, when in fact bodyguards are intended to suppress/negate threat. By the same token… there is plenty of historical precedent where bodyguard turns assassin.)

Likewise, what is the pay scale for the Pres detail? Do agents aspire to the Pres detail?

(I guess my morbid curiosity is: what’s the going rate for taking a bullet (meant for the Pres) these days? What’s the going rate to sit atop a building on the off chance you may have to peg someone(s) committing a stand-off assault on the Pres? Granted I can not recall this happening in my lifetime (33 yrs so far), but I suspect these people are the baddest of the bad and ain’t just sitting up there for the fun of it.)

After re-reading what I’ve written, I hope I haven’t crossed any lines here and certainly do not intend to. I’m not suggesting or advocating assaulting the Pres, nor am I asking for instructions on how to do so. My curiosity is, as I’ve stated, “That guy sitting on the rooftop with a rifle, what’s he pull down on an after-tax basis?”

OOhhhhh… just had another morbid thought… is there a secret detail assigned to monitor to the Pres detail? That is, if Brutus pulls a knife to assassinate Caesar, is there a smaller detail assigned to “prevent” (“whack”) Brutus? Who watches the watchmen?

On a possibly related topic, is my immagination just running wild?

I would recommend Protecting the President : The Inside Story of a Secret Service Agent by Dennis McCarthy (he was honored for his part in preventing the Reagan assassination) to get a firsthand account of life in the secret service and the presidential detail. He doesn’t get into a lot of the specifics you were asking for (security issues I’m sure) but he doesn’t overly glamorize the duty like many do.

Going from a recent Tom Clancy book, which isn’t exactly a bastion of fact but is more informative than your average piece of fiction, the other members of the Presidential detail would disarm or kill Brutus before he killed Caesar.

If the entire entourage conspired to off El Presidente, well, then we’ve got some real problems.

Due to a confidentiality agreement between…

All you have to do is call the number listed in your local telephone directory (during business hours is best). The person that returns your call with be glad to answer just about any of your questions.