Secret Service agent presents to K-State criminology club

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Austin Enns coverage editor

Protecting the president and stopping counterfeiters is a big task, but, in a lecture Thursday night to the criminology club, Charlie Button, a resident agent in the Secret Service out of the Wichita office, discussed a future career in the agency.

“I worked on Wall Street for a year, and couldn’t stand it,” Button said. “Then I worked for customs.”

Agents are required to have a bachelor’s degree and three years of work related experience or a master’s degree. Button started working for the Secret Service after his customs job, and from there he has worked in Brooklyn, trained future agents, and spent three years in the protective division working in Africa and the Middle East.

Brad Everhart, senior in sociology, said he liked hearing about the agent’s background.

“It was just interesting to see where he comes from and how much he has done,” Everhart said.

The Secret Service was founded in 1865 to stop counterfeiters, and gradually it developed into an agency with a dual mission that was also charged with protecting the president.

Now, the agency protects the president and vice president, their immediate family down to grandchildren, former presidents and visiting dignitaries, about 40 people on a regular basis.

Button said other countries typically send some of their own security personnel when dignitaries visit.

“Most countries will bring some type of element with them,” Button said. “It depends on the country; Nepal will be different than China and Russia.

When the president or vice president visit other countries, the Secret Service typically sends an advance team weeks ahead of time.

Stopping counterfeiters is still one of the major objectives though.

“We have exclusive jurisdiction on that,” Button said. “Identity theft is one of the more modern things we’re working on.”

Button also identified cyber security, online fraud and child pornography as modern concerns of the Secret Service.

The visit was also partly a recruiting trip, and Button described an extensive recruiting process. Potential agents have to take a polygraph test, disclose any crimes, get screened for drugs, and have a background investigation. Button said the application process has a 95 percent washout rate.

Ronnie Hernandez, senior in criminology and pre-law and president of criminology club, said he called the Secret Service without any preparation to see if they would present to the club. He said he enjoyed the presentation.

“I loved it because it was very insightful and we have some members interested in working at the Secret Service, so it’s beneficial that they can come here and get that input instead of from class,” Hernandez said.

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