What is the Presidential Protective Division?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

The Presidential Protective Division is charged with guarding the United States President and his immediate family. Since 1901, the Presidential Protection Division has been operated by the United States Secret Service, despite their unrelated purpose as a safeguard against counterfeit currency. Members of the President’s security detail are often recognizable by their uniforms and communications earpieces.

An earpiece, which the presidential protective division usually wears to communicate.
An earpiece, which the presidential protective division usually wears to communicate.

In 1865, the United States Department of the Treasury created the Secret Service in order to combat operations that were flooding the economy with counterfeit currency. They quickly became an all-purpose federal law enforcement group, investigating areas where the United States Marshalls had no jurisdiction or resources. When President William McKinley was shot and killed in 1901, Congress requested that the Secret Service take over the duties of guarding the President. Since that time, they have formed the core of Presidential security detail, and are given extensive training in protective practices.

The Presidental Protective Division often communicates with walkie talkies.
The Presidental Protective Division often communicates with walkie talkies.

The Presidential Protective Division is essential in ensuring the security of the President and his family at all times. This includes planning routes for motorcade trips, arranging security details for visiting dignitaries or for the President’s journeys around the globe, as well as the day-to-day guarding of their charge. They are meant to protect the President at any cost, including their own lives.

The Presidential Protective Division is responsible for guarding the President of the United States.
The Presidential Protective Division is responsible for guarding the President of the United States.

Special agents, as members of the Presidential Protective Division are known, receive advanced training in weapons and defensive strategy. In addition to their preparatory work ensuring a location’s safety, they must watch for any potential attacks in any situation. If an attack is enacted, the goals of the special agents are quite simple: they must get the President to safety by shielding them from the attack and evacuating them to a safe location.

The Presidential Protective Division must be willing to take a bullet for the president of the United States.
The Presidential Protective Division must be willing to take a bullet for the president of the United States.

As might be assumed, working in the Presidential Protective Division is a dangerous line of work, although only one agent has ever been killed as a result of an attack on the President. In 1950, Private Leslie Coffelt was fatally shot during an assassination attempt on President Truman. During the 1980 assassination attempt on President Ronald Regan, Special Agent Timothy McCarthy was shot in the abdomen when he jumped in front of the President to protect him from incoming fire. He recovered and was awarded the National Collegiate Athletic Association Medal of Valor for his courage.

The Presidential Protective Division is overseen by the Secret Service, whose primary focus is anti-counterfeiting measures.
The Presidential Protective Division is overseen by the Secret Service, whose primary focus is anti-counterfeiting measures.

Members of the Presidential Protective Division are easily recognizable any time the President is in public. They are typically dressed in formal suits with ties, although they will change their apparel depending on the etiquette of the situation. Often, they use neutral colored communications device as an earpiece, or may carry military issue walkie-talkies. You may also see them running alongside the President’s motorcade as an additional protection measure.

While only one Secret Service agent has been killed while protecting the President from assassination, the work carries a daily risk of danger. Their willingness to take a bullet in their own bodies to protect the President is an act of extraordinary courage and valor. While they may not be noticed next to the fame and importance of their charge, the members of the Presidential Protective Division are recognized for their bravery and essential services to their President and their country.

The Presidential Protective Division ensures the security of the President and his family at all times while at home and abroad.
The Presidential Protective Division ensures the security of the President and his family at all times while at home and abroad.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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