Training a high priority

By | August 3, 2017

They consider themselves the most elite protection force in the world, as capable of taking a bullet for the president as investigating a complicated financial crime.So when it comes to preparing new members for its ranks, the Secret Service has long made training a high priority.

That has become more important of late, as the agency struggles to keep pace with painfully high attrition and the unrelenting workload that fuels it.They are in a vicious cycle,” John Roth, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, said last month as he laid out the Secret Service’s personnel shortfall at a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Roth estimated that the agency needs to increase by 1,700 employees in five years, to 8,200, if it is to properly perform its investigative and better-known protection missions.The way out of that cycle passes though Beltsville, a suburb between Washington and Baltimore where the Secret Service’s training center occupies a 493-acre campus.

Past a protected, unmarked gate, would-be special agents and uniformed officers confront simulations of nearly every threat. There are shooting ranges, classrooms, gyms and a mat room, but also a fake town filled with mock snipers, a replica Marine One presidential helicopter and acres of woods for special operations training.

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