The U.S. Secret Service: Duties and Responsibilities

Home Research Paper The U.S. Secret Service: Duties and Responsibilities
The U.S. Secret Service: Duties and Responsibilities


The U.S. Secret Service is one of the oldest organizations in the USA that performs a variety of functions, including national security, protection of the governmental officials, political leaders and their families. The agency acts in accordance with the Homeland Security center, which directs the actions and function of the service. However, the U.S. Secret Service deals with multiple crimes that violate the national order. The main responsibility of the agency involves investigating the financial crimes, frauds, thefts concerning the domestic and international affairs, which threaten the national security. The financial crimes involve all possible frauds associated with currency, banks, credit cards and bonds. The U.S. Secret Service is responsible for forensic and investigative assistance, as it owns the biggest laboratory with highly educated personnel and equipment. Certainly, it is a specific organization related to the national security.

Keywords: US Secret Security, agency, law enforcement agency, investigation, protection, security, Homeland Security, cyber security

The U.S. Secret Service is one of the most highly organized American law enforcement agencies. Their headquarters are located in Washington DC and perform varieties of duties and responsibilities. The enforcement agency was one of the oldest state agencies in America. Certainly, the USSS is responsible for the state security affairs, as it is under the jurisdiction of the department of Homeland Security in the USA. Their functions concern not only security and protection, but also investigation, detection, persecution and arrest of the most difficult cases, associated with external affairs. The U.S. Secret Service deals with the most complicated missions, which are the financial crimes investigation, prosecution, cyber operations, detection and arrest, missing child cases, legal issues, and security. Naturally, their main purpose is to prevent and forecast the incidents before they occur. Although, the U.S. Secret Service is known as a guardian of the political leaders, it also performs integrated investigations and is in charge of protection.

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Literature Review

Although, it seems that the information concerning the Secret Service is unavailable and confidential, it is possible to find sources explaining the duties and responsibilities of the agency. Such information is mainly available in internet resources. However, many books explore the issues of the law enforcement and the procedure. Naturally, the most essential source of information is the official website of the Homeland Security presenting useful material in the form of separate sections. The issue can be better understood with provided pictures, and historic data. Generally, the website presents quite encouraging facts about the Secret Service, attracting people to participate, and believe in the Homeland Security. The source resembles the advertisement with bright slogans highlighting the advantages and hiding all the minuses of the agency. The information is presented as the general idea, “with honour and integrity we will safeguard the American people, our homeland and our values” (The Department of Homeland Security, 2016). The second essential source is the website of the Cornell University Law School. The text is presented in a more formal form and defines the most important aspects of the US Secret Service duties, authorities, and powers according to the code §3056. However, the source does not provide full information and all the responsibilities of the agency, taking into consideration only public laws concerned with protection issues, and the procedure of arrest. The most essential aspect of the presented web source is the form of presentation. In fact, the bullet points make the process of investigation more comfortable due to the complicated context. This source is available to everyone, but the information concerns mostly the students of law schools and colleges, since it provides the numbers of the sections, what, in fact, can be quite useful. For example, “U.S. Secret Service is authorized to detect and arrest any person who violates section 508, 509, 510, 871, or 879” (Cornell University Law School, n. d.). The last source, which is used in the research paper, is the Education and Career Guide of the Criminal Justice School. It aims to inform about the service, as the additional tool in the Junior Secret Service Program. The report is presented in the clearest form and is directed at the civilians, because they do not have primary knowledge about the enforcement service. Thus, the source discusses the key issues concerning historic information, present situation and plans for the future. It describes the protective duties in detail, and such tasks as investigation, prosecution, and detection of financial crimes. The source describes the current problems as well as possible solutions to change the situation. In comparison with the previous sources, the Criminal Justice School presents the most appropriate information for understanding. However, it is quite similar to the official website. Thus, these two sources offer analogous material in the form of presentation or advertisement. In opposition to them, the Cornel University Law School provides specific and more accurate data. It is hard to criticize the methodology of the presented material, since the characters of the texts are different, despite they all provide official and correct information. The authors do not express disagreement. Nevertheless, the Criminal Justice School highlights the biggest gap in the Secret Service Program, which is the lack of personnel. In fact, it is presented through the positive argument claiming that the US. Secret Service carries enormous responsibilities though it is the smallest governmental agency (Criminal Justice School, n. d.). In conclusion, the presented sources give sufficient information about the main duties and responsibilities of the U.S. Secret Service. In addition, they help understand the system of their work and their mission through the material presented in different forms. Thus, the different presentation of the same information helps understand the true essence of agency’s main task and purpose form different perspectives.

Overview of Missions

Actually, the US Secret Service performs two the most essential missions, protection and investigation. It participates in governmental affairs, and represents the USA on the international platform, since its duties include international and external investigation. They are responsible for life and security of the high rank officials and politicians in the USA and the guests of the country. The employees perform physical protection of the highest leaders of the state, though it concerns only elected officials and their families. Certainly, it is a wide mission, because the protective purposes they provide are integrated. The second essential mission of the US Secret Service is investigation. This aspect of their work is even wider, since it includes different types of crimes, as well as prosecution procedure, detection and arrest. It is one of the oldest services in the USA, which had quite different responsibilities. They were able only to resist counterfeiting. However, now their duties have extended to the legislative tasks. They conduct investigations and protection of the entire payment system of the USA. The Service is responsible for cyber operations, banking system and all national financial operations. The agency controls all financial infrastructure of the USA. The rapid globalization processes create the premises for the enforcement organ to hire more staff. The Secret Service is associated with highly organized security guards, who are well educated, carry firearms and wear expensive suits. However, the organization also needs computer professionals, progressive IT technologies, and well developed intelligence structure. The most famous Secret Service operation in the history of the USA was the Al Capone case. The agency revealed and prosecuted the illegal acts and crimes the famous gangster, including unpaid income taxes (“The US Secret Service,” n. d.). In addition, the agency performs the operations associated with forensic investigations and cases concerning missing children. Thus, the enforcement organization performs a wide range of tasks and is responsible for the majority of the most complicated crime cases in the USA.

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Responsibilities of the Staff

The entire system involves special agents, officers and technical support. The Service is subdivided into separate groups, which have different duties and responsibilities. It is necessary to admit that the agency hires the best personnel with developed skills and experience of more than a century. They establish in the country an atmosphere of confidence and trust. The law enforcement agency employs more than 3,200 special agents, 1,300 uniformed division officers, and 2,000 administrative professionals, technical and professional support (The Department of Homeland Security, 2016). Special agent is the most responsible and challenging position, since it demands deep devotedness and risky situations in an everyday life. The special agents are highly educated and trained officers, who wear civilian clothes and cannot be noticed or identified as the Secret Service. Certainly, the special agents perform the most integrated missions. Thus, they have to be trained and educated according to several established programs. The firs stage is the criminal investigation program, thуn the law enforcement education and the last stage is the training course (The Department of Homeland Security, 2016). The practice in the office takes more than six years and transfers slowly to the education of the protective details. The special agent should be ready to time consuming work and long distance traveling. The special officers are the subdivision of the US Secret Service that perform a wider range of protective tasks than the special agents. The officers are responsible for planning and conducting some operations, inspection, safety and emergencies. The officers face more responsibility when performing a protection mission. During such tasks, they require technical equipment, firearms, vehicle and other technical operations. Certainly, they have to engage in planning, monitoring, screening and arresting. The Uniformed division officers perform the function of protection, which concerns only the US Secret Service facilities. The most essential investigation mission depends on the work of the administrative officers. Their duties concern both investigation and support. The US Secret Service hired the most talented and skilled professionals for this mission. All the professionals carry a big responsibility for the national protection and security.

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Protection Mission

The high rank political officials are the main objects of the protective mission of U.S. Secret Service. It concerns not only the President and his family but also all the elected politicians. Moreover, the secret agency is responsible for the security of the foreign guests of the national importance and different state events, such as the inauguration, the Independence Day and other celebrations. They are responsible for the protection of a variety of individuals of national importance. The mission of protection involves the process of minimization of the external threats, through the detection of the sources of danger and identification of vulnerabilities. As the Cornell University Guide informs, the U.S. Secret Service is authorized to protect the following officials according to the Code § 3056: the President, the Vice-president, their families, the president-elect, the vice-president-elect, and the other officials in the presidential office (Cornell University Law School, n. d.). In addition, they are responsible for the security of the families of all the officials listed above. The protection of the elected politicians and their families is performed only within 120 days of the general elections. The Service is responsible for guarding the former President and his spouse for lifetime with the exception of divorced couples. They have to protect the children of the former President until they are 16. However, it applies only during the period of 6 month, after the President leaves the office. Certainly, the agency needs more professionals, since their responsibilities extend every year. The agency must perform their responsibilities abroad if the president gives such an order. It concerns the situation when the official is representing the interest of the USA abroad, if the president finds it necessary. The Secret Service directs the National Threat Assessment Center, which coordinates the protective mission and the investigation issues.


The investigation mission is the biggest portion of the Secret Service responsibilities and duties. The main area of investigation concerns the financial crimes and different money laundering cases. In addition, besides the challenging protective operations, they are responsible for all the financial crimes and threats coming from outside the boarders. All the financial counterfeiting against USA is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Secret Service. It concerns both currency and the governmental issues, as well as credit cards affairs, forgery and theft, issues concerning the US Treasury checks or bonds. In other words, the duty of the U.S. Secret Service is to protect financial structure of the USA from the domestic and foreign crimes. Their financial investigations are performed according to the Counterfeit Detection Act of 1992, which describes the details of the currency, concerning its printing rules and production peculiarities (Criminal Justice School, n. d.). Moreover, the responsibilities of the U.S. Secret Service involve the need to assist the federally insured institutions. In the other words, all the institutions coordinated by the state are under the jurisdiction of the Secret Agency. In fact, they conduct the investigation process associated with telecommunications. Their participation involves examinations of the payment terminals. The Secret Agencies have the possibility to attain the most reliable information with the help of the most innovative polygraph examination, which presents psychological data. The administrative specialists deal with the banknote investigations. They apply different specialized microscopes to detect the printing methods and investigate the characteristics of the printing. Detection of the counterfeiting becomes the most essential issue in the US Secret Service investigation process, because of the rapid development of the technologies and worldwide availability of the U.S. currency. Moreover, it is also connected to the improvement of computer technologies in the world, since the Secret Agency deals also with cyber security.

Cyber Security

The majority of crimes are associates with the computer technologies of the contemporary world. The U.S. Secret Service also considers the cyber security as an additional program when performing the investigation function. Certainly, it is closely connected with the financial infrastructure of the country, since all the essential currency and bond operations are performed with the help of web resources. Malicious software, hacking attacks, takeovers of accounts, emails and other web crimes become more common and cause different breaching of data and information of the national importance. In order to predict the cybercrimes, the U.S. Secret Service initiated a specific program aimed at the electronic misconducts. The subdivision of special agents concerning the electronic crimes is responsible for the program. Moreover, the Service established a computer response team in case of emergency located in the Carnegie Mellon University. In addition, the agency extended its cyber security to the international level. Every year it establishes partnerships with different law enforcement organs from different countries in the world, providing cyber security worldwide. The Secret Service provides training in the area of technological equipment in order to make the personnel aware of the innovative technologies and be able to extract the necessary information form the mobile devices, USB units, skimming devices and cellular phones. Thus, the U.S. Secret Service deals with all the possible cyber crimes, which concern not only financial issues but also all other law violations and information breaching. Certainly, the Secret Service is authorized to detect and arrest as the other law enforcement services in the USA.

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Detection and Arrest

The U.S. Secret Service is able to arrest and detect the criminals, who violate all possible laws described in the previous sections. The law enforcement agency has the right to detect and arrest all the criminals convicted in forgery. They can detect people who possess any kind of equipment for printing or production of money and other financial tools. Moreover, they are authorized to hold a person that intends to willfully threat to kill, kidnap, or harm the President, his family or other officials. Any individual, who acts against the prescribed law enforcement system, can be arrested, if his/her intentions threaten the security of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Bank System or association, and other institutions, which are described in the sections 213, 216, 433, 493, 657, 709, 1006, 1007, 1011, 1013, 1014, 1907, or 1909 (Cornell University law School, n. d.). They are authorized to arrest the criminals in the area of electronic frauds, access violations and breaching of the data under the national insurance. Officers and agents act under the directions of the Homeland security, and can execute warrants, have the legal right to carry firearms, arrest without warrants in case of reasonable circumstances. The citizens of the USA can also assist the Secret Service in performing their duties. Moreover, the agency can offer them a reward and pay for the relevant information about crime cases.

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Forensic and Investigative Assistance

Although the Secret Service is an independent organization with a unique structure, and specific responsibilities and duties, it can also serve as an additional investigational office in different forensic affairs and provide investigation assistance for other enforcement establishments. It is necessary to admit that it is the strongest investigation support in the world since the service possess the most acute and unique technologies, which can be applied to solve the cases. It has a well-developed and comprehensive criminal investigative program and system of analyses. The Secret Service has a particular investigative team, serving this function, and can be involved in separate specific cases. Certainly, they are asked to assist with the most complicated situations. The Secret Service is a central office for the forensic laboratory. It is an exceptional service in the world, since it has unique investigation analysis system. Secret Service laboratory possesses the biggest in the world library of inks for detecting writing characteristics and handwriting peculiarities. It is the only laboratory with the International Association for Property and Evidence accreditation (The Department of Homeland Security, 2016). Moreover, the agency applies certain blending technologies. They deal with the documentary photography, video and audio production, and speaker recognition technologies, modeling of the animation, simulation of the events with the help of three-dimensional data collection. The Secret Service presents the most essential informative technologies, which can be widely used by different enforcement agencies. In addition, the successful work of the U.S. Secret Service is the main reason why the government extends the duties and responsibilities of the agency. Thus, the government authorized the Service with additional specific responsibility to assist in forensic and investigation issues concerning the missing children. Actually, the agency only provides the necessary technical assistance and analyses in the procedure of the missing children cases.


Thus, the US Secret Service is a unique organization, which performs the governmental mission and tasks concerning the national security. The citizens can attain any kind of information concerning the organization. It is possible to find a variety of web sources and printed literature with the necessary information about the Service. The official website gives the most essential material in the form of short articles about all the duties and responsibilities of the agency. The Secret Service is authorized to perform two the most important duties: protection and investigation. Each of them includes some additional functions. Certainly, the agency is responsible for life and security of the first political leaders of the country and official guests. However, they also investigate the most serious crimes threatening the national security, including financial crimes, cyber security, assistance in forensic and investigation the missing children cases. Thus, it is a unique organization, which performs not only the function of national security but also engages in a wide range of duties and responsibilities.

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