Brent Doxtater, a member of the U.S. Secret Service, visited AP Government and Politics students on Friday to speak about his job.
Doxtater has been with the Secret Service for 15 years, joining after 9/11.
“I went down to a job fair in Nashville and got started from there,” Doxtater said.
The road to becoming an agent wasn’t easy. From the job fair to becoming an agent, the process took two years. In this time, assessments were given such as knowledge and physical tests.
“On my 23 birthday I had to take an 8 hour polygraph,” Doxtater said. “The application process was not easy.”
Doxtater was trained for 24 weeks, after admittance to the Secret Service.
During his 15 years, he has worked solely in protection at government administration offices and the White House.
Doxtater has served under three presidents including George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
Now, Doxtater works at the vice president’s residence. From taking care of coordinating motorcade activities to Marine Two “lifts,” a typical work week could range from 5 to 7 days and could extend over 80 hours.
“I work a lot of overtime,” Doxtater said. “The most I’ve ever worked in a two-week period was 117 hours of overtime.”
Doxtater said his job was more of an administrative job now, but he works as a “typical” agent, standing post and guarding areas of interest to the vice president.
“I’ve got to work a lot of different things,” Doxtater said, “Pope visits, director of Interpol, celebrities, inaugural events and some pretty high officials in the government.”
He was also involved in the funerals of previous Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.
After speaking, Doxtater offered students time to ask questions. In some instances, Doxtater stated he could not reveal information, but he did reveal a lot to students.
Doxtater told students about motorcade operations. Metro police stop traffic in Washington while command posts have switches to control lights, all in an effort to get from one destination to the other.
He has also worked post at the White House, seeing violent situations.
“We’ve had people ram their cars into our barriers,” Doxtater said. “You never know if their car is strapped with explosives.”
Doxtater explained the feeling during the moment of an attack.
“When an attack starts, you get ramped up,” Doxtater said.
Doxtater explained that agents have a constant concern for attacks. Whether attacks are small or large-scale, compromising security is never an option for the Secret Service.
“Knowing constantly that there’s a possibility for a large-scale attack, that’s scary,” Doxtater said. “You think, this going to be the big one.”
Doxtater did not reveal answers to “large-scale” attacks but did specify the dangers of an attack and what could occur.
“That’s always scary to think that I would have to use my gun,” Doxtater said. “There’s always tourists around and anytime I shoot I have to worry where that round goes – it’s my responsibility.”
Doxtater said he does stand post but is not a direct member of the Vice President Pence’s detail in the event of an attack.
“The detail gets him out,” Doxtater said, “I deal with the threat.”
The Secret Service requires apt physical and mental health for agents to perform any task, whether it’s an attack or ensuring a motorcade is kept safe. Doxtater said that training is required often
and agents are expected to fit this into their busy schedules.
“We do have a physical fitness test every quarter,” Doxtater said. “If you can’t reach those levels, you would be placed on limited duty.”
The importance of these tests is being able to save yourself, according to Doxtater.
“If you can’t save yourself, you can’t save anyone else,” Doxtater said.
Agents have two main training facilities: Beltsville, Maryland and a post office in where there is a firing range in the basement.
“Every three months we do weapon training,” Doxtater said. “We have to go regardless and sometimes it’s not the easiest [to go].”
Doxtater said he recently went to Trump Towers in New York City but has never met the president.
This past week, Doxtater has been on vacation but will return to work in the coming days.