The Secret Service ultimately is responsible for protecting the president. But the police officers and sheriff’s deputies riding in a motorcade, directing traffic and assisting as a prominent individual moves from one location to another is a large responsibility.
It’s everything from security to hospitality, requiring lots of attention. It’s timing, and much more.
It’s not as glamorous as one might think. In fact, it can be a very difficult, very dangerous job.
This was evidenced Sunday in Florida when a veteran police officer was preparing to shut down a stretch of highway ahead of the motorcade of President Barack Obama as it headed for a campaign rally.
Officer Bruce St. Laurent, 55, was killed in West Palm Beach after his motorcycle was struck by a pickup.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund counts 16 officers before Sunday’s tragedy who were killed while escorting a dignitary.
For example, The Associated Press reported:
1902 — A Secret Service agent was struck and killed by trolley car in Lenox, Mass., while in President Theodore Roosevelt’s escort detail.
1928 — A police officer on motorcycle escort for a presidential candidate was struck and killed in Kearny, N.J.
1929 — A Virginia State Police officer was involves in a motorcycle crash while escorting President Calvin Coolidge. The officer died about six weeks later of his injuries.
1992 — A Palm Beach County, Fla., sheriff’s deputy was killed in a motorcycle accident while escorting Sen. Paul Tsongas, a presidential candidate.
2006 — A Honolulu police officer died after his motorcycle slid on a rain-slicked roadway, where he was escorting President George W. Bush.
2007 — In Rio Rancho, N.M., a police officer was killed in a motorcycle crash while escorting Bush’s motorcade.
2008 — A Dallas police officer died when his motorcycle slammed into a guardrail as he was escorting then-Sen. Hilary Clinton’s motorcade.
2012 — The Jupiter, Fla., police officer died while riding in the Obama motorcade.
The danger is always there.