SM Archives: Politicians in the Line of Fire

By Joseph A. Kochis, CPP

In light of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) on Saturday morning at her first constituent meeting of the new year, which ended with Giffords in critical condition and 6 people murdered, we highlight a cover story from almost two decades ago, demonstrating the unique challenges of protecting a high-profile politician.

                                                                                                  -- The Editors

Campaign Security Hits the Hustings

By Joseph A. Kochis, CPP

LEE HARVEY OSWALD, Squeaky Fromme, John Hinkley. Every American knows these names, because any threat to the president's security--regardless of the outcome--is national news. Candidates for local or statewide political office face similar risks without the benefit of Secret Service protection. These candidates turn to private security professionals.

Protecting a political candidate, his or her campaign staff, and family members provides a unique security challenge.The process entails many of the typical elements of executive protection, but these measures must be adapted to fit the distinct nature of a campaign.

The level of security required to protect a specific candidate is determined by the type of office sought, the candidate's public image and reputation, the attitude of the voters, the mode and direction of the campaign, and the campaign issues surrounding that office. Other important considerations include the conduct of the candidate when dealing with people, the method the candidate uses to interact with groups of voters, and for incumbents, the history of events that may have aroused emotions during their term.

Before taking on an assignment to provide protection for a political candidate, a security professional should examine the scope and nature of the office being pursued, as well as the type of campaign that will be conducted and its anticipated duration and the level of funding needed.

(To continue reading Kochis' November 1994 cover story, please click here.)

♦ Photo of Giffords' shooting scene by SearchNetMedia/Flickr


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