Quora: Are the Secret Service Trained to Kill?

secret service
An armed U.S. Secret Service agent with an automatic rifle guards the White House complex during an evacuation over a security alert moments after U.S. President Barack Obama and his family left for the presidential retreat, Camp David, in Maryland, September 19, 2014. Larry Downing/Reuters

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Answer from Jason Wells, former U.S. Secret Service Special Agent:

The U.S. Secret Service is not in the business of killing anyone. The modus operandi of the agency is exactly the opposite of that; the Secret Service saves lives, and keeps people safe. And nowhere is there a justification to harm innocent people in the execution of that mission.

When I first came on the job, I (like all of the other new recruits) was starstruck with the mission of the office; selflessly taking a bullet for the President (a popular theme in media and entertainment culture), hand-to-hand combat with some assailant who is trying to harm the person being protected… the suits, the earpiece, the image… it's very easy to read the headlines and believe it when you're living it.

But the instructors at the James J. Rowley Training Center (RTC, the Secret Service training academy) are very, very good at bringing new recruits down to Earth quickly.

It was made clear early in my career that the point of the job was not to be that guy who takes the bullet, but rather be the guy who has done everything that can be done to ensure that decision never needs to be made. Advance security procedures, site walkthroughs, contingency planning, all of it. The better prepared for a visit, the more likely the visit will be one that has no issues, or God forbid, casualties.

I just don't think that the hypothetical scenario presented here is possible in any realistic world. I just think that the agents who handle Presidential protection would be prepared for keeping the President alive without having to make the decision of whether to harm or not harm innocent civilians.

If the Secret Service had to kill 1000 U.S. civilians to save the president, would they? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions: