PROTECTION OF THE WHITE HOUSE COMPLEX
IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

As noted above, in the 1890s, the Secret Service began to protect the person of the president; assuming official responsibility for this task in 1906. Since that time, plainclothes Secret Service operatives or agents have served as Presidential bodyguards. They have formed an inner perimeter of security that has continuously surround the President both inside and outside the White House Complex.

For almost a quarter of a century after the Secret Service formally assumed its personal protective function, however, the Service; played an extremely limited role in providing the outer perimeter of protection around the White House Complex and in safeguarding the buildings and grounds themselves. A body of policemen derailed from the Metropolitan Police Department performed these duties. Until World War I, the size of this force remained at twenty-seven men, the number established byp President Grover Cleveland during his second term.

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In 1917, the year that the United States entered World War I, the number of Metropolitan Police officers assigned to guard the White House increased to thirty-four. The detail was expanded to fifty-four during the war in response to the dangers generated by the conflict. Additional guard stations were established both inside the White House Complex and on the grounds.

The military helped to secure the White House during World Was I, as it had during every previous American conflict other than the Spanish American War. Armed soidiers in uniform stood at the gates of the White House Complex and patrolled the grounds.

After the armistice ending World War I, the Metropolitan Police detail once again assumed sole responsibility for buildings and grounds security. The size of the force remained at fifty-four, despite the return of peacetime conditions. As had Always been the use, the police who guarded the White House were under the supervision of the Superintendent of the MPD. (62 Cong. Rec., 12131). The President d no direct authority over his own protectors. President Warren Harding decided to change this arrangement when he learned that the MPD refused to win its most qualified personnel to the White House detail.

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In 1922, at Harding's urging, Congress passed legislation that established a separate organization of thirty-three men called the White House Police Force. The statute created the force "for the protection of the Executive Mansion and grounds." The members of the force would have privileges, powers, and dudes "similar to those of the members of the Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia, and such additional privileges, powers, and duties as the President may prescribe. (Public Law No. 300-67th Congress (S-3659) (1922)).

The statute provided that White House policemen would be selected under the direction of the President from members of the Metropolitan Police and the United States Park Police. [16] The statute placed the new force "under the sole control of the President and under the direct supervision of such officer w he may designate." President Harding selected Lieutenant Colonel Clarence O. Sherrill to supervise the White House Police. Sherrill served s the President's Chief Military Aide and Director of Pubic Buildings and Grounds.


[16 Many of the Metropolitan Police officers who had previously been detailed to the White House were transferred to the new organization and thus continued in their old roles.]

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The White House Police Force was entirely independent of the Secret Service, and there was relatively little coordination between the two organizations. In 1930, the vulnerabilities inherent in this arrangement were exposed. That summer, a well-dressed man walked confidently through the front door of the White House, but without either an appointment or an invitation. The police officers guarding the entrance allowed him to pass, assuming that he was a Secret Service agent. The intruder managed to enter the dining room and interrupt President Herbert Hoover's dinner before an agent stopped him. The man turned out to be a curious sightseer.

To improve coordination among the security forces and prevent the recurrence of such a breach, President Hoover acted immediately to place the White House Police under the control and supervision of the Chief of the Secret Service. On July 2, 1930, Congress passed legislation to this effect. For the first time, the Secret Service was now responsible for every aspect of White House security.

The statute merging the White House Police into the Secret Service also increased the size of the police force to forty-eight. This expansion was necessary in light of the escalating number of threats against the President triggered by the Great Depression. Congress further expanded the force to

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sixty men in 1935, in response to tripling of executive office space in the West Wing.

The start of World War II led to significant changes in White House security arrangements. In 1940, before the United States became a combattant, the unsettled conditions around the globe induced Congress to expand the White House Police Force to 80 men. In 1942, after the United States entered the war, Congress authorized funds to increase the size of the White House derail to 140, but on a temporary basis. Because many Metropolitan Police and Park Police were being conscripted into the armed forces, Congress also eliminated the requirement that all White House policemen be drawn from these two entities.

With the advent of was, the military once again assumed a major role in protecting the White House Complex. Sentry boxes were constructed at regular intervals both inside and outside the fence and were staffed by a special detachment of Military Police. Furthermore, sentries armed with machine guns maintained a permantent presence on the roof of the Executive Mansion. Only when it became clear that the Allies would prevail did President Roosevelt order that the military guards be assigned elsewhere.

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In 1947, as returning servicemen swelled the ranks of the Metropolitan Police and the Park Police, Congress restored the requirement that White House Policemen be recruited from these two entities. The temporary wartime enlargement of the White House Police Force ended, as Congress ceased appropriating funds for additional officers. Simultaneously, however, Congress increased the numerical limit on the permanent force from 80 members to 110. [17]

In 1950, Congress increased the limit on the strength of the force to 133 officers, in order to accommodate a switch to a shorter work week. In 1952, in the wake of the attempt on President Harry Trumanís life at Blair House, Congress expanded the maximum size of the force again, to 170 officers.

In 1962, Congress rewrote the organic statute of the White House Police Force. The new law, codified at 76 Stat. 95, reposed in the White House Police the duty of protecting not only the Executive Mansion, but also any building in which White House offices are located." As a result of this provision, the force assumed responsibility for protecting the entire Executive


[17 In the post-War period, Congress has not ;always appropriated sufficient funds to support the full authorized number of police. Consequently, the actual working strength of the force has often been smaller than its authorized strength.]

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Office Building (now known as the Old Executive Office Building). [18] In light of this expanded responsibility, as well as a general increase in activity at the White House, the 1962 statute raised the limit on the size of the force to 250 officers. The 192 appropriation supported 213 personnel. By 1967, Congress was funding the force at full strength.

In 1970, Congress once again amended the organic statute of the White House Police Force, and changed the detailís name to the Executive Protective Service (EPS), to reflect the force's expanding responsibilities. In light of a spate of assaults against foreign missions in the \Washington area, Congress gave EPS the duty of protecting these missions. The statute dramatically enlarged the force, from 250 to 850 officers, to provide EPS with sufficient personnel to fulfill this new foreign missions function, as well as to handle the continuing increase in the number of tourists and visitors at the White House Complex. Finally, the new statute terminated the requirement that EPS officers be recruited from the Metropolitan Police and the Park Police.


[18 Since 1959, the language in the annual Congressional appropriations acts had authorized the White House Police to provide security in the Executive Office Building, but only in those portions of the building used by the White House. General Services Administration guards secured the remainder of the building. The 1962 statute gave the White House Police responsibility for the Entire building for purposes of efficient management.]

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EPS's responsibilities increased once again in 1974, when Congress assigned it the responsibility of protecting the Vice President's residence. The following year, Congress gave EPS the further responsibility of guarding foreign diplomatic missions in American cities other than Washington, D.C., under certain circumstances. In passing this latter statute, Congress recognized that EPS would be unable to fulfill its expanded duties unless the force was further enlarged. It thus raised the numerical limit on the strength of the EPS to 1200 members. It has remained at this level to the present day.

In 1977, the EPS acquired its current name, the Secret Service Uniformed Division. The Uniformed Division was divided into three branches: the White House Branch, the Foreign Missions Branch, and the Administrative Program Support Branch. In 1986, the Department of the Treasury Police Force was merged into the Uniformed Division. The Uniformed Division White House Branch thus assumed the responsibility for protecting the Department of the Treasury, as well.

In the 1980s, the Secret Service created a specialized unit within the Uniformed Division called the Emergency Response Team (ERT) to provide an immediate response to emergencies at the White House Complex and at foreign missions. ERT was formlly established in 1985 as a specific response

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entity. Prior to 1985, a controlled response consisted of Uniformed Division officers in response mode during their down time between Assignments. ERT further evolved into a more defined unit in 1992 with two-week formalized training program.

HISTORY OF GROUND
AND AIR ASSAULTS ON
THE WHITE HOUSE COMPLEX

With its combination of physical barriers, an outer perimeter of uniformed police, and an inner perimeter of bodyguards, the White House Complex has always been a relatively safe location for she President. Although, as discussed above, Presidents have been exposed to deadly or lifethreatening assaults with frightening regularity, not one of these assults has occurred within the White House Complex. Indeed, each assassination or potentially deadly assassination attempt has occurred when the Presidential protectee was away from the White House, in the proximity of a crowd.

Nonetheless, the incidents addressed by this Review are not the first intrusions or violent incidents that have occurred on the White House grounds. Indeed, throughout its history, the White House Complex has been subjected to increasingly frequent and occasionally successful attempts to penetrate its borders by ground and by air.

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Ground Incursions and Attempted Ground Incursions
Gate Crashers

Marshall Fields (December 1974). On Christmas Day in 1974, Marshall Fields, a man who claimed he was the Messiah, crashed his Chevrolet Impala through the Northwest Gate of the White House Complex and drove up to the North Portico. Fields hod flares strapped to his body, and he announced to Secret Service personnel that the flares were explosives that he was prepared to detonate. After about four hours of negotiation, Fields surrendered.

In response to the Marshall Fields incident, and an incident the previous year in which another driver had crashed through a gate onto the White House grounds, the nineteenth century, wrought-iron gates were replaced with reinforced gates in 1976.

On December 1, 1976, Steven B. Williams became the first would-be intruder to test the new, strengthened gates. He rammed the Northwest Gate with his pickup truck at approximately 25 mites per hour. The gate did not buckle and the front of Williams' truck was flattened Since then a number of other individuals have tried but failed to crash through gates onto the White House grounds On at least one occasion, a driver attempted to enter the

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Complex through a gate opened for another vehicle, but he too was unsuccessful.

Few, if any, drivers have ever attempted to crash through the white House fence, as opposed to a gate. Such an intrusionn became impossible in 1983, when concrete Jersey barriers were installed around the perimeter of the White House Complex in response to the threat posed by the Beruit bombing. In 1990-92, the Jersey barriers were replaced by the present bollards.

Fence Jumpers

In recent history, it has been common occurrence for intruders to scale the fence around the White House complex and Enter the grounds. Most of these "fence jumpers" have been pranksters, peaceful protesters, and harmless, mentally ill individuals.

Chester Plummer (July 1976). Chester Plummer was a1 local taxi driver with a criminal history who had never come to the attention of the Secret Service as a potential threat to the President. On July 27, 1976, he scaled the White House fence carrying a 3-foot length of metal pipe. As he advanced toward the White House, he was confronted by an EPS officer - The officer drew his revolver and repeatedly ordered Plummer to halt, but Plummer raised

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the pipe in a threatening manner and continued to advance. The officer shot Plummer in the chest. Plummer died of his wounds shortly afterward.

Anthony Henry (October 1978). Anthony Henry wished to persuade President Carter that it was blasphemous to place the words "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency. 'Wearing 1 white karate suit and carrying a Bible, he climbed over the White House fence onto the north kounds. When he was confronted by Secret Service agents and Uniformed Division officers approximately 15 yards inside the fence line, he pulled knife from inside the Bible and slashed one officer's face and another's arm. Uniformed Division officers surrounded Henry, prodded him with long batons, and poked the knife' out of his hand. They then forced him to the ground and arrested him.

Other Fence jumpers. As the chart below indicates, a large number of individuals have entered the White House ground by scaling the fence in recent years. It is important to note that fence jumpers rarely make it far once they are on the White House grounds, although there have been some notable exceptions. In; December 1975, Gerald Gainous roamed the grounds for an hour and half and approached President Ford's daughter while she unloaded camera equipment from her car. In 1991, Gustav Leijohhufved, a Swedish citizen, was not apprehended until he reached a guard post outside the West

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Wing; Neither of these men were armed, however. The only armed fence jumpers have been Plummer and Henry, though an intruder threatened a Uniformed Division offlcer with a water pistol in 1977.

CHART 2
Recent Fence Jumpers at the White House Compex

Year Number of jumpers ___________________ 1989 3 1990 2 1991 7 1992 4 1993 3 1994* 4 *As of 11/94

Other Trespassers

Other intruders have gained access to the White House Complex illegally either by entering with legitimate passholders or running through gate opened for a vehicle. he following gate indicates the number of people arrested after gaining access to the grounds of the White House Complex or attempting to do so by one of these methods.

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CHART 3
Recent Trespassers to the White House Complex

Year Ran Through Open Gate Entered With Passholder ________________________ 1989 0 0 1990 1 1 1991 0 0 1992 0 0 1993 1 0 1994 0 3

On January 20, 1985, the day that President Ronald Reagan was sworn in for his second term, an intruder named Robert Latta entered the White House with the Marine Band and wandered around the Executive Mansion for 15 minutes before he was discovered and apprehended.

External Threats

John Tyler Administration (1841-1845) Perhaps the only instance in which an assailant standing outside the White House fence almost succeeded in harming a President who was inside the White House Complex occurred in the early 1840s, when an intoxicated painter threw stones t President John Tyler as he strolled on the South Grounds. Another dangerous episode transpired in 1841, after Tyler vetoed the bill establishing the Second Bank of the United States. An inflamed and intoxicated Whig mob, enraged by Tylerís action, marched to the White House. Standing outside the locked gates, they threw

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stones, fired guns, and burned the President in effigy. This was the most violent demonstration ever to occur at the White House Complex.

The Bonus Army (June 1930). In 1930, in the middle of the Great Depression, 20,000 veterans descended on Washington, demanding that Congress release their service bonuses early. The Secret Service was concerned that this "Bonus Army" would resort to violence and detailed large numbers of extra personnel to guard the White House. Although the veterans focused most: of their attention on the Capitol, on the night of June 20, a large group gathered near the white House. As this crowd watched, police attempted to arrest two demonstrators who were marching along the north fence on Pennsylvania Avenue. The demonstrators resisted, and the angry throng surged toward the officers. Ultimately, however, the riot feared by the Secret Service did not occur.

David Mahonski (April 1984). Since 1950, at least four people considered to be serious threats to the President hve been apprehended in the vicinity of the White House carrying a weapon. One of these arrests involved a violent confrontation. In 1984, David Mahonski, who had made threats against President Reagan, was under surveillance by both the FBI and the Secret Service. On March 3 of that year, Uniformed Division officers noticed him

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standing outside the fence bordering the south ground of the White House. As they approached him, he pulled a sawed-off shotgun from under his coat. One of the officers immediately shot Mahonski in the arm with a revolver. The officers then arrested him.

Air Incursions and Attempted Air Incursions

Robert K. Preston (February 1974). On February 17, 1974, Robert Preston, a private in the Army, stole an Army helicopter from Fort Meade, Maryland, and flew It to the White House Complex. He passed over the Executive Mansion and then returned to the south grounds, where he hovered for about 6 minutes and touched down briefly approximately 150 feet from the West Wing. Members of the EPS did not know who was piloting the aircraft and were not aware that it had been stolen from Fort Meade. They made no attempt to shoot down the helicopter.

Preston left the area of the White House and flew the helicopter back toward Fort Meade. He was chased by two Maryland State Police helicopters, one of which he forced down through his erratic maneuvers. Preston then returned to the White House Complex. As he lowered himself to bout 30 feet above the south grounds, EPS officers barraged the helicopter with shotgun

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and submachine gunfire. Preston immediately set the riddled aircraft down. He was injured slightly.

Samuel Byck (February 1974). Samuel Byck, a failed businessman with a history of mental illness, was investigated by the Secret Service in 1972 on the basis of Reports that he had threatened President Nixon. In 1974, he hatched a plan called "Operation Pandora's Box" to hijack a commercial airliner and crash it into the Executive Mansion. On February 22, less that week after the Preston incident, Byck went to Baltimore/Washington International Airport carrying a pistol and gasoline bomb. He forced his way onto a Delta flight destined for Atlanta by shooting a guard at the security checkpoint. He entered the cockpit and ordered the crew to take off. After the crew informed him that they could not depart without removing the wheel blocks, Byck shot .the pilot twice and the co-pilot three times (the to-pilot died). Police outside the airplane shot into the cockpit and hit Byck twice. Byck fell to the floor, put the revolver to his head and killed himself.

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BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE

In addition to the Congressional records, newspaper articles, and statistics and records provided by the Secret Service, a number of books and scholarly articles were useful in preparing this information. Of special note is The President's House (White House Historical Association, Washington, D.C., 1986), William Seale's remarkable and comprehensive study of life at the White House. This book was the chief source of information regarding security arrangements in the nineteenth century prior to the Secret Service's assumption of the protective function. It was helpful in describing subsequent decades s well. In addition, The President's House astutely discusses the historical tension between security and democratic openness at the White House.

The Report of the U.S. President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1964), commonly referred to as the Warren Commission Report, contains an excellent historical section regarding presidential security and attacks on chief executives through 1963, the year of the Kennedy assassination.

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Frederick Kaiser provided useful information in two articles which appeared in separate issues of Presidential Studies Quarterly. In "Origins of Secret Service Protection of the President: Personal, Interagency, and Institutional Conflict," Winter 1988), Kaiser offers a detailed analysis of the Secret Service's presidential protective activities from their origin in the 1890s through the early twentieth century. His "Presidential Assassinations and Assaults: Characteristics and Impact on Protective Measures," all 1981), ably describes the threats historically faced by our presidents and the Secret Service's efforts to respond to them.

The Secret Service itself prepared two short histories of its law enforcement role, each of which includes a helpful description of the agency's presidential protective function: "Moments in History, 1865-1990" (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C and "Excerpts from the History of the United States Secret Service 1865-1975" (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.).

Although memoirs by former Secret Service directors and special agents contain only limited specific information concerning the Secret Service's operations, they nonetheless provide vivid portrays of the challenges faced by those entrusted with the protection of the president. The Review consulted the

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following memoirs: Protecting the President: The Inside Story of a Secret Service' Agent, by Dennis V.N. McCarthy and Philip W. Smith (William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1985); Starling of the \White House by Col. Edmund W. Starling as told to Thomas Sugrue, (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1946); Special Agent: A Quarter Century with the Treasury Department and the Secret Service by Frank J. Wilson and Beth Day. (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, New York, 1965); and 20 Years in the Secret Service: My Life with Five Presidents by Rufus Youngblood (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1973).

Other books that were helpful include: The United States Secret Service by Walter Bowen and Harry Edward Neal (Chilton Company, Philadelphia 1960); The Secret Service Story by Michael Dorman (Delacorte Press, New York, 1967); No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994); The Politics of Protection: The United States Secret Service in the Terrorist Age by Philip Melanson (Praeger Publishers, New York, 1984); The Story of the Secret Service by Harvey Edward Neal (Grossett & Dunlap, New York, 1971); and A System of Modern Geography by S. Augustus Mitchell (E.H. Butler & Co., Philadelphia 1864).

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Pennsylvania Ave. Closure || Peace Park