The United States Secret Service has dual missions of protection and investigation. Secret Service agents are responsible for protecting the President, Vice President, and former Presidents for ten years after their service has ended. They also protect the family of the President along with prominent political candidates.
The Secret Service is integral to investigations into counterfeiting. This was their original mandate when Lincoln founded the agency in 1856. As the types of crimes have expanded with the information age, the missions of the Secret Service have also expanded.
Financial crimes such credit card skimming and identify theft all fall within the purview of the agency’s mission. The Secret Service uses its advanced forensic lab to help other law enforcement agencies investigate these types of crimes.
Joining the Secret Service in West Virginia
Before they can pursue careers with the Secret Service, prospective agents must meet a list of requirements. These include being a U.S. citizen. Applicants must also be between 21 and 36 years old, although the agency does hire military service veterans who are older than 36.
Vision Requirements – Excellent vision is required of prospective Secret Service agents. It can be no worse than 20/60 without correction and must be correctable to 20/20. Lasik and other types of surgeries are permitted to improve vision. Applicants cannot apply until three months after Lasik treatment and six months after other types of eye surgery.
Educational Requirements – Applicants at the G-7 level must have either obtained a bachelor’s degree with a merit of distinction or have attended graduate school for a year. Qualifying attributes of a bachelor’s education include having graduated in the top third of their class, election to a national honor society, or having a GPA of one of the following:
- Major courses: 3.5
- All course: 3.0
Applicants for G-9 level positions must have a J.D., LL.B., or graduate degree.
Experience Substitution – Experience can substitute for a portion of the education requirement. This applies to people who have worked a year in certain types of criminal investigatory or law enforcement jobs. This can include one of the following:
- Carrying out investigations
- Any (G-7)
- Of law violations (G-9)
- Organizing evidence to present to the prosecution
- Conducting undercover operations and surveillance
- Along with seizures and/or raids (G-9)
- Apprehending and arresting people
- And interviewing and interrogating them (G-9)
Hiring Process – The hiring process for Secret Service agents in West Virginia includes both physical and written tests. The written ones include writing reports and passing the Treasury Enforcement Agent exam. Finally, prospective agents must receive a top secret security clearance following an exhaustive background check.
Training Academies – Recruits undergo training at two law enforcement academies. The first is the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FELTC). This involves a ten-week program: the Basic Criminal Investigator Training program.
Subsequently, they are sent to the nearly 500-acre James J. Rowley Training Center (JJRTC) where they take part in the Special Agent Basic Training Program. This seventeen-week Secret Service program teaches tactical and executive/managerial skills in addition to training agents for their dual missions.
Recent Secret Service Activities in West Virginia
Secret Service agents in West Virginia have their base of operations at the Field Office in Charleston. They protect any dignitaries that may visit West Virginia. In addition, they work on financial crimes within the state. Individuals in West Virginia were among those arrested in a groundbreaking cybercrime case.
Operation Open Market was the first cybercrime case of the Secret Service to result in a RICO indictment. This large organization provided the following types of contraband for purchase:
- Counterfeit plastic and holograms used to make fake credit cards
- Fraudulent identification documents
- Money laundering services
- Credit cards
- PayPal accounts