The US Secret Service’s one field office in the state of Utah is located in Salt Lake City. Most people think of the Secret Service as the protectors of our national leaders and their families but, outside of Washington D.C., Secret Service agents are primarily responsible for investigating financial crimes such as counterfeiting, money laundering or identity theft. However, when a state hosts a “National Security Event,” the Secret Service becomes the principle agency for designing, coordinating and implementing security.
In June of 2009 Secret Service agents arrested a 36-year-old man who told a teller at Zion First National Bank in St. George, Utah that he was on a mission to kill the president. The man had opened a savings account with $85,000 but closed it two weeks later. Secret Service agents arrested him outside a casino in Laughlin, Nevada.
Requirements for Becoming a Secret Service Agent in Utah
Secret Service agents are hired at either a GL7 or GL9 pay grade depending on their education and experience. Requirements that must be met for a Secret Service career are:
- Bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university with superior academic achievement including being in the upper third of the graduating class with a 3.0 or higher grade point
- One year experience in criminal investigation, including surveillance, arresting suspects and organizing evidence for prosecution
- U.S. citizen between the ages of 21 and 37
- Valid driver’s license
- Good health/excellent physical condition
- Good moral character
- Able to qualify for a top secret security clearance
- Special bonus for proficiency in a foreign language
Utah has seven public and four private accredited four-year colleges and universities with campuses conveniently located across the state. There are also approximately 10 technical colleges and a number of two-year community colleges. Students in Utah can also elect to earn a degree from one of several accredited online schools.
Roughly 16 schools in Utah offer a program in criminal justice from which an average of 476 students graduate each year.
Secret Service and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City
When the 2002 winter Olympics were designated a national security event, the Secret Service became responsible for protecting a 900-square-mile area in potentially frigid conditions. The Secret Service spent three years creating a security plan that brought together 60 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies as well as medical emergency personnel. Consideration was not only given to a possible major incident like a bombing or kidnapping but also to more mundane issues such as:
- General transportation
- Special protection for/routes taken by dignitaries
- Handling suspicious packages
- Dealing with demonstrations
- Snow removal
- Equipping security officers
Agents were furnished with insulated yellow parkas to keep them from freezing. In addition, the Secret Service worked with Olympics officials to teach them such things as how to recognize phony security credentials. There was a giant sigh of relief in the Salt Lake City field office when the event ended without a security hitch.
A joint investigation by the Secret Service and local law enforcement resulted in the arrests of six individuals suspected of forgery and counterfeiting. The suspects were allegedly passing fake $20 bills through East Carbon County as well as other parts of Utah and adjoining western states.
Training to Become a Secret Service Agent
Newly hired agents are required to attend special agent training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia followed by 14 weeks at the James J. Rowley Training Center outside D.C. where they learn specialized protective, investigative and managerial techniques. Courses include:
- Use of force/control tactics
- Emergency medical techniques
- Financial crimes detection
- Special event protection
- Water survival
Agents return to the James J. Rowley Center at various times throughout their career for additional training.