The United States spends a lot of money protecting the life of the president. As the most powerful man in the nation and the leader of the free world, the investment is entirely appropriate. He is constantly at risk from those who would do him harm.
Regardless of whether we agree with a president’s political positions or style, the president’s life matters and should be protected. Our nation should provide sufficient resources to guard and protect the president, and treat with respect the Secret Service agents who daily put their own lives at risk to keep the president from harm.
When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, he was guarded by a single Washington policeman of questionable integrity with a less than stellar history of job performance. John Parker left his post outside of Lincoln’s box at Ford’s Theater shortly after intermission to go drinking at the saloon next door. Thus, when John Wilkes Booth approached Lincoln’s box from behind, the door to the box was guarded by only an empty chair, allowing Booth to fire the fatal shot without any resistance.
Ironically, Lincoln signed a bill on the day of his assassination creating the Secret Service, but their function then was limited to detecting counterfeiting of currency.
It wasn’t until the third American president tragically fell victim to assassination (William McKinley in 1901 – after James Garfield in 1881) that the role of the Secret Service was expanded to include protecting the president.
Since then, while there have been assassination attempts (Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan), and countless threats against presidents, John F. Kennedy remains the only president assassinated while under Secret Service protection.
We live in a very different world from 1865 when a sole policeman was charged with protecting the president. And since Kennedy’s 1963 assassination, the risks to the president have monumentally increased and requires a larger and more sophisticated Secret Service to protect the life of the president.
President Trump’s lifestyle has stretched the capacity of the Secret Service to protect him and his large family. His travels to multiple vacation getaways spots he owns, visits to foreign countries and regular re-election campaign rallies have resulted in constant travel and many overtime hours by agents assigned to protect him.
This stressful environment has taken its toll on some agents who have left the Secret Service for positions offering a better work/life balance. The attrition has required the remaining agents to work even more overtime. A 2014 investigation found that agents worked “an unsustainable number of hours.”
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