Washington DC, USA - July 2, 2016: A U.S. Secret Service officer, wearing a vest with various equipment attached, stands on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House.
Washington DC, USA - July 2, 2016: A U.S. Secret Service officer, wearing a vest with various equipment attached, stands on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House.

Just the name conjures up images of agents in black suits with barely visible wires snaking around their ears, talking into their wrists as they shadow the president: the U.S. Secret Service.

The officers who are famously trained to stand between the president and harm’s way have a singular role to play at events like the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate—protecting the two candidates on stage.

But the Secret Service is more than just bodyguards for the president and major candidates. It’s a sophisticated intelligence and law enforcement operation that handles protection for a variety of visiting officials and former presidents, and it even investigates financial crimes.

This is a rare glimpse into the operations of one of the most iconic organizations in the United States...

Dr. Virginia Beard, associate professor of criminal justice Tweet This

The organization will open up about all of those roles, including how members will operate at Longwood during the debate, in a public forum at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 in Blackwell Ballroom. The event is free and the public is invited.

“This is a rare glimpse into the operations of one of the most iconic organizations in the United States, and our students—especially the criminal justice majors who will be in attendance—will gain valuable insight into a highly specialized operation,” said Dr. Virginia Beard, associate professor of criminal justice, who organized the event. “Secret Service members will detail roles they have served in, from providing security in the field to working in counterintelligence. The discussion will throw back a curtain on a highly sophisticated operation—with the voices of the people who make it happen.”

After a panel discussion, the Secret Service will open up the floor for questions from the audience.  

A select group of Longwood criminal justice majors will be given a behind-the-scenes tour of Vice Presidential Debate preparations—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the operation in action.

The Secret Service was formed in 1865 as a division of the Treasury Department to suppress counterfeit currency and began providing protection to the president after President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901. Today, there are more than 4,000 sworn members of the Secret Service who protect the president, vice president and other high-ranking officials. They continue to investigate financial crimes such as money laundering and financial fraud.

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