Ronald Reagan's secret service detail

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  1. #1

    Ronald Reagan's secret service detail

    Here's the scenario:

    Due to previous circumstances, my MC and his friend spend the night passed out in a ditch alongside one of those endless rural roads in Wyoming. Shortly after dawn, they are awakened by secret service agents, guns drawn. En route to a speaking engagement at a nearby University, Reagan's limo has gotten a flat tire (or something), and the entire motorcade has stopped. A helicopter hovers overhead. (this is sometime after John Hinckley Jr.'s assassination attempt).

    The agents look at the boys' ID's, which are fake, but pass the test. They ask them what they are doing there. The boys say they are on their way to California and they needed to stop for the night because they were too tired to drive. Their car is parked one hundred feet or so away. The agents search the car but find nothing but liquor, which they dump.

    Rencently, the boys had picked up an ultra left wing hothead who was on his way to the same college to protest Reagan's appearance there, but he was beaten and arrested by a state trooper. One of the boys half-jokingly warns them about the protester and wises off to the agents. They rough him up a bit.

    I probably will not mention Reagan by name, or even show him, but I will suggest that he may or may not be in one of the limos.

    Satisfied that the boys are not a threat, the agents and the motorcade quickly take off once the president's limo is repaired.

    My questions:

    Specifically, what kind of guns would the agents have pointed at the boys?

    Is there anything in this scenario which doesn't ring true?

    Would there really be a helicopter hovering overhead? I like the ambiance.

    Would they arrest or otherwise detain these kids? For purposes of the story, this can't happen.

    Would they even bother roughing up a wiseass kid? I'm assuming they're not going to take the warning about the protester seriously.

    I'm also assuming that once the limo is repaired, the entire motorcade takes off immediately.

    I hope to be writing this scene in a day or two, so if I have any other questions I will add them.


  2. #2
    Member KHK's Avatar
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    Dec 2019
    Not a specialist in Secret Service affairs by any stretch of imagination, but a few things stood out for me.

    First, the premise if the presidential limo getting a flat tire sounds very dubious to me. By that period, no-flat tires for APCs were pretty much the standard, so I'd imagine the APCs that are just disguised as presidential limos would not fall below that standard.
    Second, even if something like that were to happen, I don't believe the Secret Service (or any VIP protection detail, for that matter) would allow the President to stay stranded. They don't travel in a single car, there's a whole motorcade, usually including more than one similar limo (to throw potential attackers off by not knowing which one the primary target will be using), plus a bunch of big black SUVs. It stands to reason that they'd just transfer the President to one of the other cars and whisk him away ASAP. Worst case, if there's a helo in the air, as you say, it could pick him up and take to the nearest safe area, if not directly to the destination (which begs the question, why didn't he fly there in the first place?).

    The important idea to keep in mind is that any abnormal situation along thee route would be treated as a crisis, and addressed as such.

    Roughing up, while not impossible, doesn't strike me like something such an elite and disciplined organization would do. Those are not some neighborhood cops or state troopers, after all.

    As far as the guns go, I'd say they may have some HK MP5s, possibly Beretta 92s. I would be surprised if the protective detail didn't also include a sniper or two.

    P.S. Another tangent for you to entertain: Presidential motorcades are often accompanied by local police motorcycle cortege. Those may be the ones that come in contact with your teens, and are more likely (even still not very much) to act trigger happy and rough them up.

  3. #3
    Pretty much what KHK already said. The rule of thumb in any VIP escort is to never make unplanned stops for whatever reason, hence VIP motorcades often having police escort or the right to use emergency lights (and the accompanying exemption from certain traffic rules). In the unlikely event that the VIP's car broke down, he would be immediately transferred to another vehicle.

    Secret Service agents probably wouldn't have anything larger than concealed sidearms on them, especially in the given scenario. They are at home, in their own country, during a time when domestic terrorism was still relatively unheard of. Because of that, the presidential bodyguards would strive to avoid appearing heavily-armed and intimidating, as that would imply the president is afraid of his own people (and consequently lose voters). They would definitely not rough up the lads found by the roadside, approach them with guns drawn, or even check their IDs, but simply ask them to leave if they were in the way. Any professional security service will only get physical as the last resort, when the subject is acting aggressively and refusing to comply with verbal commands. Rule of thumb - pull out a gun only if you expect to use it. A couple of (apparently) hung-over teenagers, much less ones who are compliant and non-aggressive, just don't qualify for pointing guns at by any professional standard.

    Since I understand the motorcade is travelling through a remote countryside, I don't think there would be any helicopters accompanying it. If there is, there would probably be a sniper aboard, though I don't find such security measures plausible for a routine domestic speaking engagement in a state where the majority voted for the president in question to begin with.

    So yes, if you want an altercation between your protagonists and the authorities to occur, it would most probably be with overzealous state police/sheriff's department officers.

  4. #4
    The idea of the president sitting patiently in his limo while they change a flat does sound ludicrous.

    At this point I'm thinking of just having them witness the motorcade go by. Being awoken by state troopers will actually work better since state troopers are a bit more threatening.

    If I can come up with a good conversation and/or incident involving the kids and the troopers, I can work in the motorcade as a sort of exclamation mark for the whole scene. It may even help me segue into the next scene, which involves a traffic jam. Perhaps the motorcade might have something to do with that.

    Thanks for your help!


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