Becoming the first art director for the US Secret Service was never something I had on my dream list. I was working as an illustrator in the graphics branch of the National Photographic Interpretation Center. I had been there only a year when a friend called from the personnel department of the Secret Service. She mentioned that a new vacancy had just been approved for someone to start a graphics department for the Service and thought I’d be the perfect candidate for the job. I could not believe it. Here I was, a 26-year-old junior artist, being offered the chance of a lifetime. I could not have responded more quickly or more enthusiastically for a chance to interview. My friend on the telephone asked me just one question, “Do you still have a beard?” I answered in the affirmative and she quickly responded, “They won’t even talk to you.” My friend had called on a Friday and my interview with the Secret Service was scheduled for the following Monday morning. I asked my branch chief, Chuck L., for that morning off. When I returned to work after the interview that Monday afternoon, Chuck looked at me, clean shaved and in a three-piece blue suit standing in front of his desk, and with a half-smile said, “Hope you get the job.” The Interview  In 1968, the US Secret Service had its headquarters located at 1800 G Street, NW, in Washington, DC. They occupied three floors of a high- rise office building with a bank on the ground floor. The building was just two blocks from the Old Executive Office Building which stands adjacent to the White House. My interview that Monday morning took place in the office of Leon S., a retired Air Force photographer; the only photographer working for the Secret Service at the time. His small office was furnished with a desk, chair and file cabinet. Against the back wall was a small wooden drafting table covered with papers, Illustration boards, and sheets of dry-transfer type. As soon as we entered Leon’s office, I immediately recognized the familiar smells of a photo lab. Acidic acid, a universal photo chemical, gave every lab the distinctive air of vinegar. I sat in front of Leon’s desk and the interview proceeded like most others. We talked about my experiences in graphics and art, my military service, the history of the Secret Service, and the larger roll photography was playing in law enforcement. Leon pointed out the drafting table and mentioned he was too busy with his photo assignments to tackle the growing graphic needs of the organization. Besides, he didn’t really have the graphics experience to get the art requests done quickly and professionally. The interview went on for about an hour. I was extremely excited about getting the opportunity to plan and build a graphics department from scratch. Every artist or illustrator dreams of having his or her own studio.  I knew I really wanted the job, but with my limited experience and education, I wasn’t sure I had much of a chance. Then Leon asked the perfect question. “Paul, what one thing could you say that would make me choose you over the other candidates applying for this position?” Maybe it was the fact that I had nothing to lose. Maybe it was my Marine Corps training. Maybe it was just that wise guy in me trying to come up with a great punch line. Whatever the reason, I leaned forward, looked Leon in the eye, and with all the conviction I could muster said, “You will never stump me.” Silence. Then Leon asked, “What did you say?” “You will never stump me,” I repeated. “Whatever graphics problem you give me, I will come up with an acceptable solution. You will never stump me.” Leon gabbed a pipe from the rack on his desk, leaned back in his chair, tapped some tobacco into the bowl and lit up. He took a couple of puffs and then said he had never gotten that kind of response from an interviewee before. He said he would think about what we had discussed and would get back to me in two weeks. We shook hands and I left, still no more sure of my chances in getting the job than when I had walked in. As a matter of act, I thought I had gone over the line and blew it. Two weeks later, a personnel officer from the Secret Service called to tell me that I had been chosen for the position. I couldn’t believe it. I was ecstatic. She continued by saying that I would need to go though another background check before I could be hired. The Secret Service did not accept background investigations from other government agencies; even those from the CIA. I could wait as long as it would take. This was a dream come true. From the Elite to the Elite I would be hired into the Intelligence Division of the Secret Service. They handled all of the incoming phone calls to the White House, threat letters to the President and other government officials, and “unofficial” visitors who would show up at the White House gate, wanting to speak to the President. They were involved with intelligence gathering and threat assessments regarding the President, first family, and top government officials. The Intelligence Division was the place to be in 1968. The Secret Service, a part of The Department of the Treasury, was one of the smallest law enforcement agencies in the federal government. As such, most supervisors and special-agents-in-charge, or SAICs, were pragmatic managers. Paperwork was minimal, security was tight but informal, and employees were expected to think independently; solving problems on their own. There was no time for hand-holding. The typical, bureaucratic office meeting was rare. I noted immediately the strong camaraderie and get-it-done attitude of agents and staff in the Service. I had joined the Marine Corps of the federal government. Both had the same esprit de corps and dedication to duty. Oorah!
In 1863, it was estimated that three out of every five US currency notes in circulation were counterfeit. There was no federally printed and issued currency. Many banks, large and small, designed and printed their own money. With one note looking different than the next, there was no easy way anyone could identify genuine from counterfeit currency. Hugh McCulloch, the Secretary of the Treasury needed a department of agents to suppress counterfeit currency. Some historians believe Secretary McCulloch received verbal  authorization to start his “secret service” from President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, the same day the President and his wife were to attend a play at Ford’s Theater, featuring John Wilkes Booth. Until 1901, the Secret Service was tasked with preventing the counterfeiting of currency, both paper and coin; gold and silver bars, and U. S. stamps. They did some part-time protecting of President Grover Cleveland, but not until 1902, a year after President William McKinley’s assassination, were they chartered to give full- time protection of the President. Even then, the protective detail assigned to the White House was only two agents. In 1908, the Secret Service was transfered to the Department of Justice and became the nucleus for what is now the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI. By 1915, the Secret Service was back with the Department of the Treasury investigating espionage in the United States. The White House Police, created in 1922, were placed under the supervision of the Secret Service in 1930. By 1965, the Secret Service was responsible for protecting the president, his immediate family, the president-elect, and the vice-president. Also, they were responsible for the protection of former presidents and their spouses for life and their children until age 16. As a result of Robert Kennedy’s assassination in 1968, Congress authorized the protection major presidential and vice-presiden-tial candidates and nominees. The White House Police was renamed the Executive Protective Service in 1970, and were given the added duties of protecting diplomatic missions in the Washington, D.C. area. A year later, Congress authorized the Secret Service to protect visiting heads of foreign states or governments, or other official guests, as directed. In 1975, the duties of the Executive Protective Service were expanded to include protection of foreign missions located throughout the United States and its territories. Two years later, it was renamed the Secret Ser-vice Uniformed Division. When in 1984, Congress made the fraudulent use of credit and debit cards a federal crime, the Secret Service was tasked with the responsibility of investigating credit and debit card fraud, federal-interest computer fraud, and fraudulent identification doc-uments. By 2001, the Secret Service also was authorized to conduct civil or criminal investigations of federally insured financial institutions, tele- marketing fraud, identity theft, and computer- based crimes. In 2002, the Secret Service was transferred from the Department of the Treasury to the newly formed Department of Homeland Security. As of 2008, the Secret Service has made more than 29,000 criminal arrests for counterfeiting, and cyber and other financial crimes. Ninety- eight percent of the arrests have lead to con- victions. In addition, agents have seized more than $295 million in counterfeit currency and closed financial crime cases where actual loss amounted to $3.7 billion while preventing a potential loss of more than $12 billion. Edited from: Secret Service History
My new, little corner in the world of law enforcement. It would grow into a full studio in a very short time.
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