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Strategy for dealing with the Secret Service -- should I be paranoid?


paulcbrowne

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paulcbrowne

Yesterday morning my wife and I were headed through Loudoun County in Virginia on our way to check on construction of our new house in West Virginia.

 

We were on a rural two lane (Rt. 9) having just left the major highway (Rt. 7). We came to a stop light and a sheriff's deputy had traffic stopped on the road entering ours. It seemed odd, but he gave us no signal and we continued when the light turned green. Within a couple of miles we almost encountered a disaster except for God's grace.

 

Cresting a hill from the opposite direction we saw lots of flashing lights coming our way quite rapidly. The car in front of us and we both slowed. It looked like one of those motorcades for the President -- we learned later it was some visiting head of state.

 

All of a sudden the Virginia State trooper leading this gaggle began coming into our lane. At first I figured that he was just drifting like too many driver on this very nice stretch of road. But he kept on coming until he was fully in our lane and waving his arms for us to get off the road.

 

The car in front of us went into a shallow ditch and we were fortunate enough to end up on a patch of gravel off the road that wasn't much bigger than the RT. Limos, Suburbans, strange-looking vehicles that looked like a mobile Hawk battery, SS motorcycles, ambulances all passed in the opposite lane.

 

Virginia rural roads are usually bordered by only a drainage ditch and there are seldom places to pull off. This could have been a major disaster and thankfully we ended up only shaken but all right.

 

I've heard of this kind of thing when the Secret Service is running things, but wasn't pleased to have this kind of firsthand experience. While I have no problem with the Secret Service doing its proper protective thing in this world with so many nut cases, I got the feeling that these guys just might be some pretty reckless cowboys who've overdosed on too many episodes of Jack Bauer.

 

Current status -- Virginia State Police are investigating. The Secret Service thanked me for my call and said they had no idea of of what was going on since they have so many things happening. Like, should I ever expect to hear back anything from them.

 

I understand that local law enforcement helping the Secret Service in situations like this are operating under Federal rules and under the direction of the Secret Service.

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Thats funny you said that. I noticed some funny stuff going on today also while leaving Towson, MD. I saw a group of (at least 6-8) motorcycle riders wearing uniforms that were NOT Maryland state troopers. They were all filling up at a gas station right off the beltway. Then a few minutes later I noticed quite a few extremely low flying (and fancy) helicopters hanging out over one of the reservoirs that I pass through on my ride home. I figured something was going on.

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Somehow I doubt your complaint will get you anywhere... You did what I always recommend around the USSS...get the hell out of the way. Having been part of protective details in many roles (Counter Assault Team Support, perimeter post, traffic post, detail liason, etc...) I can tell you that they don't screw around and you don't want to be around if the proverbial stuff hits the fan.

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Agent_Orange

+1. Ya hit the nail on the head. They don't give a hoot what happens to you and yours when they are 'on detail'. eek.gif

Your complaint will be round-filed. blush.gif

 

If you thought that was something, you ought see presidential detail. Now that was some VERY serious stuff. I was lucky enough to have my unit on it for Bush-1 many years ago. cool.gif

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And you thought MEN IN BLACK was just a comedey. lmao.giflmao.giflmao.gif

 

I've seen freeways closed in the LA area by gobs of flashing lights and spooky black vehicles. Just a month ago at the latest.

Always turn right and run away.

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Your problem may not be with the USSS but more with the Virginia State Police. I don't know if it's still the same way or not because my experience with the motorcade was a while back. When Clinton came driving through the city I work for, the USSS basically just told us where they were going and the route. They didn't specify how we were to clear the road for them or any direction on what they wanted other than to get them from point A to point B without hassle. You may have had an overzealous State Trooper or he may have been directed by his supervisor to do that, without the USSS directing them to do that. You probably have a better chance at a response from the State Troopers.

 

However, I do have one question. Instead of being a motorcade, if this was one lone police car driving to an emergency with it's lights and siren on going the opposite direction aren't you supposed to pull to the right anyways? Maybe the rules are different there, but here you would be expected to pull to the right even if he's going the opposite direction.

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I escorted the POTIS before and I can tell you that even being an LEO on a motorcyle it was made clear that if I or another "went down" in front of the motorcade that they don't swerve to avoid you. AND the ambulance that typically is the caboose is not there for me and will not stop to help. They typically try to remove all traffic from the route but the few cars that manage to get in the mix HAVE to be blocked and made to get off the road. The intent is to put the leo vehicle between you and the package. It's a "spit" sandwich and everyone has to take a bite. Just think what the radio traffic was like for the trooper that was sent over to block you. I am confident he was dressed down in short harsh terms to get that traffic off the road now! Sorry about your experience though. Anytime something like that happens, the SS is NOT happy that any traffic got through any they don't spare the language letting you know about it.

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Had a very similar experience at Mayo Clinic in Rochester about 15 years ago. You were right to get the hell out of the way. I did not make that informed judgement. Was helping a friend out and it had not gone well, I was on a short fuse and some rude asshat came around the corner and just tried to shove me aside with a standard one arm sweep. I, unfortunately had spent four years as a bouncer in a "redneck" bar in northern minnesota, just grabbed his arm and continued his momentum face first into the brick wall and continued on. About a minute later there were suits all over me for "attacking" a "federal agent". Rough couple of hours, learned long ago to pick a simple story and stick with it; second believe nothing told to you. He was private security for a Saudi royal family sent ahead to clear hallway, none of the people grilling me had any offical governmental capacity and they were about to be in more trouble than me. My story was that the "drunk" slipped and fell and I was trying to find a phone to get help. Lack of witnesses really helped. Would like to believe that I would do things differently now. confused.gif

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Agent_Orange

"none of the people grilling me had any offical governmental capacity"

 

And that, my friend, is the difference. tongue.gif

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lawnchairboy

It truly is UNBELIEVABLE the assets/resources/ and logistics of VIP movement around the globe... my eyes were opened on someones' asian swing back in 03'...

 

dscf0134.jpg

 

it is mind blowing.

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GoGo Gadget
AND the ambulance that typically is the caboose is not there for me and will not stop to help.

 

Two Honolulu motormen went down during a POTUS escort last eyar. The ambulance did stop and help from my understanding. One died a few days later as I recall. frown.gif

 

How should you react? In the case you mentioned, pull as far as you safely can and stop. It does not mean to run into the ditch and crash. Wait until every LE vehicle has passed, then proceed.

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Amen to that brother, only 1 time on detail did I feel like I wouldn't get waxed with everyone else if the CAT team rolled out and that was when we were SWATed up with them to cut a hole for them if necessary...every other time I made sure I was standing near a solid peice of cover... dopeslap.gif

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DavidEBSmith

I got the feeling that these guys just might be some pretty reckless cowboys who've overdosed on too many episodes of Jack Bauer.

 

Yah, nobody has any problem with the public officials who are supposed to serve us crushing us citizens underneath the wheels of their motorcades? Where's all the anti-government rugged individualists who get irate any time they get pulled over for blasting down the highway at 20 over the limit? How come that's an outrageous exercise of government authority, but getting waxed by the USSS while you're minding your own business is OK?

 

If they think they need the roads clear to maintain security, they need to do a better job of clearing the roads. They can do it with a little courtesy and an apology for the inconvenience caused to Mr. Citizen and Ms. Taxpayer. If the security detail needs to run people off the road to maintain security, they're doing a crap job.

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This motorcade BS is going to get worse as we near the primaries and the '08 presidential election. Just stay out of the way. The routes and paths of VIP's are well planned and thought out in advance and every LEO official is supposed to know when, where and what they are supposed to be doing to make this as safe as possible. For security reasons, the public is the last to know about this stuff.

Of course this didn't work for the governor of NJ who nearly bit it at 91 mph.

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Ok, I'll bite...

If the security detail needs to run people off the road to maintain security, they're doing a crap job.

+1

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I have had the opportunity to work with the USSS on the occassion of a visit by the President and Vice

President to a company I once worked for.

 

Although they were very clear about what you should and should not do (and what the consequence

would be if you made that mistake), they were some of the most professional and courteous people

I've met.

 

Sounds like the person you should be angry with was the trooper who let you through the check point

in the first place.

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Lets_Play_Two
Killing potential voters with your motorcade does not sound like sound political strategy to me.

 

How would this discussion go if we were talking about ignoring a car or truck being in the way that then drives into the motorcade and explodes? I think the problem was with the troopers not stopping traffic rather than the secret service reacting to an unexpected vehicle. I guess if it were my decision I would err on the side of making a voter angry.

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Although they were very clear about what you should and should not do (and what the consequence would be if you made that mistake), they were some of the most professional and courteous people I've met.

 

Some years ago, the spousal unit and I were in Reno for a convention. We'd just left a performance of Riverdance and were walking down the middle of the casino's mall area. I saw a bunch of guys in suits moving toward us in a clump, so being the polite--and occasionally nonobservant--sort, I moved out of the way. The SU recognized Pres. G.H.W. Bush moving with a USSS detail. Did she get out of the way? Heck no. She was curious to see how close she could get. <shakes head, rolls eyes> How close did she get? How close do you get to some stranger in the mall on Saturday afternoon? I'm still a bit surprised. Either they recognized her as a nonthreat(how?) or were confident they could thump her as fast as they needed to. <shakes head again>

 

bws

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