The Secret Service was created in 1865 by President Abraham Lincoln
in response to the surfeit of counterfeit currency circulating in the United States. The agency was commissioned on July 5th, 1865 under the name Secret Service Division, with the explicit goal of targeting and eliminating counterfeiting. However, the lack of other federal agencies at the time soon forced the Secret Service to expand out into the investigation of other federal crimes, such as bank robbery. In 1901 President William McKinley was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz, and an informal request from Congress put the Secret Service in charge of protecting the president. This position was made official a year later, and the Secret Service assumed full responsibility for the safety of the president.
In the early years, the Secret Service had been involved in domestic intelligence and counterintelligence, however in 1908 the FBI
was created and the responsibility of intelligence gathering was passed to them. In 1922 the White House Police Force was created, and fully integrated into the Secret Service by 1930. It is responsible for the security in the White House
Complex , the vice president's residence, Treasury buildings and foreign embassies in D.C. Following the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1942, the Secret Service was involved in the internment of Japanese American leaders. In 1950 an assassination attempt was made on President Harry S. Truman
. It was prevented by the Secret Service, and Leslie Coffelt, to date the only Secret Service agent to die in the act of defending a president, was killed during this attempt.
In 1964 President John F Kennedy
was assassinated, and a Secret Service agent leapt onto the back of the car and shielded the wounded president and the first lady
until they had arrived in a hospital, though he was unable to save the president's life. After this assassination, morale in the Service was inordinately low, and many changes were made to training and procedure in the agency. In 1965 the Secret Service's remit was expanded to include widowed spouses of presidents until they remarried, and children of former presidents until they reached the age of 16 or 5 years after the term ended. When Robert F. Kennedy
was assassinated in 1968 the Secret Service's protection duties were further expanded to cover major presidential or vice presidential candidates. During the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan
, a Secret Service agent was shot in the abdomen while protecting the president. Prior to 1997, presidents received lifetime protection after leaving office, however a 1994 bill that came into effect in 1997 limited this protection to 10 years after leaving office.
In September of 2001 the New York
Field Office of the Secret Service was located at 7 World Trade Centre, across from the World Trade Centre buildings. After the attacks on September 11th, 2001, a number of employees left the building, which was itself destroyed in the attacks, and were among the first respondents on the scene. They aided the fire department in setting up triage areas, and in the evacuation of the buildings. One member of the Secret Service died while aiding in the rescue efforts. After the 9/11 attacks, the US Patriot Act, signed into law in October of 2001, placed the Secret Service in charge of establishing and running a nationwide network of Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTFs). The ECTFs prevent and investigate technological attacks on mainly financial or other critical targets in the United States. In 2009 the ECTFs expanded to Europe
with the establishment of the first European Electronic Crimes Task Force in Rome
. This was further expanded in 2010, when another ECTF was created in London
Currently, the Secret Service is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
, and has 136 field and resident offices scattered throughout the US, as well as 19 located in other countries. As it is not an official member of the intelligence community, the Secret Service is not subject to the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and is instead controlled by its own Director. Currently there are over 6,500 employees in the Secret Service, of whom about 3,200 are Special Agents, 1,300 are Uniformed Division Officers (formerly White House Police), and 2,000 are in technical and administrative roles.