The United States Secret Service is a highly complex and multifaceted federal government organization involved in both investigation and protection. Secret Service investigations mainly involve those of a financial nature, such as credit card fraud, investment fraud, and U.S. currency counterfeiting, while its protection missions involve the protection of our United States Presidents and Vice Presidents, visiting foreign dignitaries and individuals involved in special missions.
Just a few of the special protective missions within the Secret Service include the Presidential Protective Division, the William Clinton Protective Division, the Carter Protection Division, and the Bush Protective Division.
There are now nearly 120 Secret Service field offices in the United States and another 30 across the world. Within California, there are a number of Secret Service field offices:
- Los Angeles 213-894-4830
- Sacramento 916-325-5481
- Fresno 559-487-5204
- San Jose 408-535-5288
- Santa Ana 714-246-8257
- San Diego 619-557-5640
- Riverside 951-276-6781
- San Francisco 415-576-1210
- Ventura 805-383-5745
In addition to field operations, there are also a number of specialized operations in California:
- Electronic Crimes Task Force: Los Angeles and San Francisco
- Financial Crimes Task Force: Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles
How to Become a Secret Service Agent in California
Basic Requirements – Individuals applying for Secret Service agent jobs in California must be United States citizens; they must be at least 21 years old (and no older than 36); they must be in excellent physical condition; and they must possess a valid driver’s license. They must also have no visible tattoos or other body art and they must have no felony or domestic violence misdemeanor convictions.
Degree Requirements – All California Secret Service agents are hired at the GL-7 federal level or above. The minimum requirements for this level include either a four-year bachelor’s degree with superior academic achievement or at least one year of specialized experience at the GL-5 level. Individuals who cannot meet the superior academic achievement, which includes achieving at least a 3.5 GPA in all major courses and graduating in the top third of their graduating class, may also qualify if they possess at least one year of graduate education beyond a bachelor’s degree.
There are no specifics regarding the type of bachelor’s degree an individual may possess; however, individuals seeking a career as a special agent with the Secret Service often seek bachelor’s degrees in:
- Homeland security
- Emergency management
- Police science
- Criminal justice administration
- Public safety
- Forensic science
A degree criminal justice administration, for example, provides students with a comprehensive course of study in criminal behavior, criminal law, and law enforcement operations and management, including criminal investigations and comparative criminal justice.
Special agents with the Secret Service in California are expected to complete a 10-week course of training, become firearm proficient, and obtain a top-secret clearance before receiving their initial appointment.
Pre-Employment and Training Requirements for Secret Service Agents in California
Upon being selected by the Secret Service as a candidate, individuals must complete a number of pre-employment tests, including a psychological evaluation, a medical evaluation, and a comprehensive background check.
Further, all new hires must complete a course of training that totals nearly seven months. The first period of training occurs at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia, and the second period of training occurs at the James J. Rowley Training Center, which is located just outside of Washington D.C.
Just a few of the areas of training at the James J. Rowley include:
- Firearms marksmanship
- Use of force/control tactics
- Water survival
- Financial crimes detention
- Emergency medical techniques
Secret Service Operations in California
Recent headlines highlight the presence of Secret Service agent careers in California:
- On December 6, 2013, a California couple was convicted of a sophisticated credit card and identify theft scheme. The Secret Service was credited with synchronizing the activity of local law enforcement activities in a number of cities to bring these people to justice.
- In August 2013, a California individual was charged with posting fake jobs on Craigslist and enticing victims to send deposits for these jobs and for fake vacation properties. The U.S. Secret Service is credited with proving that she violated federal wire fraud laws by receiving money in excess of $332,000 from unsuspecting victims.
- In September 2013, the United States Secret Service busted an identity theft ring operating out of Israel. The Secret Service found that the people involved in the scheme traveled to California on Israeli passports, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cigarettes, and attempted to get home to the Middle East, where they would receive large payments for their efforts. Secret Service agents were able to use airline databases to monitor the movements of the suspects.