The United States Secret Service may be best known for its secret agents—the men and women in dark sunglasses protecting our President, Vice President, and other world leaders. However, this federal law enforcement agency is also deeply involved with crimes involving American currency, securities, bonds, and financial institutions and, more recently, cybercrime.
Florida has become a major interest to the Secret Service because of its prevalence of cybercrime. In fact, the Secret Service has even named South Florida the “cybercrime capital” because they consider it to be the epicenter of cybercrime in the United States.
The Secret Service has therefore created two Electronic Crimes Task Forces in both Miami and Orlando. The Secret Service created these task forces to collaborate with state, federal and local law enforcement agencies and investigate cybercrime, computer crimes, hacking cases, identity theft, and online enticements.
There are about 120 Secret Service field offices in the United States, seven of which are located throughout Florida:
- Fort Meyers: 239-334-0660
- Orlando: 407-648-6333
- Miami: 305-863-5000
- Jacksonville: 904-296-0133
- Tampa: 813-228-2636
- Tallahassee: 850-942-9523
- West Palm Beach: 561-659-0184
Requirements to Become a Secret Service Agent in Florida
Basic Requirements – Basic requirements to become a Secret Service agent include:
- Be at least 21 years of age but younger than 37 at the time of appointment
- Be a United States citizen
- Hold a valid and current driver’s license
- Be in excellent physical health
- Have no felony convictions or misdemeanor domestic violence convictions
Degree Requirements – Candidates must also meet, at a minimum, the GL-7 federal requirements to be eligible for employment. Individuals can quality at the GL-7 level with a bachelor’s degree, provided they can show superior academic achievement (3.5 GPA in courses related to their major and a 3.0 GPA overall).
Candidates therefore often choose to pursue a four-year degree in a number of fields:
- Emergency management
- Homeland security
- Criminal justice administration
- Public safety administration
- Forensic psychology
A degree in criminology, for example, allows students to acquire basic knowledge of the theories, methods and issues in criminology, while developing critical thinking skills through the application of criminological theory and social science research methods. Coursework in this type of program includes:
- Theories of crime
- Criminal justice policy
- Research methods in criminology
- Statistical analysis in criminology
- Comparative criminology and criminal justice
- Race, crime and justice
- History of crime and justice
- Forms of criminal behavior
- Communities and crime
Candidates without proof of superior academic achievement may qualify if they have completed at least one year of graduate education or if they have completed at least one year of specialized experience at the GL-5 level.
New Secret Service agents in Florida should expect to be assigned to duty stations anywhere in the nation, and most agents must complete frequent and extensive travel throughout their careers. Further, it is common for Secret Service agents to be relocated to offices in the U.S. and throughout the world at some point in their careers.
Training Requirements – Individuals selected as candidates for Secret Service agent jobs should expect to undergo drug testing, a polygraph examination, a medical examination, a written examination, and a physical assessment, among other things.
Training requirements for new agents are just as arduous, as they include the successful completion of 11 weeks of basic training, followed by another 16 weeks of special agent training that focuses more on advanced training methods, such as water rescue and firearms marksmanship.
Secret Service Operations in Florida
The operations of the Secret Service in Florida are evident upon viewing recent headlines:
- December 2013: A Tampa resident was indicted by a federal grand jury on a number of wire fraud counts related to the receipt of more than $3.9 from investors who were promised $10 million overseas loans in return for their investment.
- August 2013: A Central Florida man and woman were arrested on federal fraud charges related to a celebrity hacking scheme. The pair was arrested based on the investigation of the agents of the Secret Service, who found that they were stealing the identities of celebrities and politicians, including Hillary Clinton.
- The Secret Service in Florida recently increased its protective mission efforts when Vice President Joe Biden and his wife visited their new Naples estate on Keewaydin Island.