The terrible Tucson attack on January 8, 2011, in which 19 persons were shot, six fatally, sparked wide-ranging national discussion about possible causes and solutions. Commentators have addressed mental health policy, firearms regulation, characteristics of mass shootings, police action and inaction, the tone of political debate, regulations on speech, military restrictions on prior marijuana use, and even the possibility of a national program to protect politicians.
An attack like the one in Tucson obviously raises many issues, but the one that is most immediate, relevant, and practical for security professionals is this: what can be done right now to minimize the likelihood of similar attacks on elected public officials?
The U.S. Congress consists of 100 senators and 435 representatives. Other branches and levels of government include hundreds more potential targets. Providing all of them with U.S. Secret Service-level protection is impractical and unnecessary. The solution may be to recruit staff members into a protective effort.
Staffers, obviously, cannot play quite the same role as dedicated executive protection professionals. However, they can become familiar with the basics of executive protection, assess risks, plan public events with an eye toward security, and tap other resources (such as local police) to aid in the protective effort.
(To finish reading "Reducing Risk for Elected Officials," a February online exclusive, please click here.)
♦ Photo of Giffords' shooting scene by SearchNetMedia/Flickr