Former Secret Service Agent Jeff Stover: Tucson Shooting Underscores Lax Security

Former Secret Service Agent Jeff Stover Reveals that Tucson Shooting Underscores the Lax Security in Place When Congressional Members Travel

Neal Asbury opened the show by reflecting on the shootings in Tucson and wondering whether this will interfere with the open access U.S. citizens have with their Senators and Representatives. He also is apprehensive about a “culture war” that has erupted over the Tucson shootings.

“We can’t let sick degenerates like Jared Lee Loughner polarize the nation and move us away from the center. As a nation we need to come together so we can concentrate on important matters like creating jobs. We must practice civility and make America work again so we can race ahead of our competitors around the world,” said Asbury.
Neal was joined on the show by a substitute co-host, Andy Korge.

Joining the show was Jeff Stover, a law enforcement veteran of three decades who served in the Secret Service, FBI, Homeland Security and FAA. He has the distinction of being half of the only father/son team to work in the Secret Service. Together, they have served 11 different U.S. Presidents.

Stover startled the show’s hosts by revealing that when the majority of members of Congress travel to their home districts for group meetings they have little or no security on site. Consequently, while Stover was saddened by the shooting, he noted that this security lax routinely puts legislators in peril.

“While legislators traveling are at risk, in Washington DC on Capitol Hill, members of Congress face far fewer risks due to a capitol police force that does an excellent job. Strict screening measures are in place to identify potential risks. But we can’t let these risks limit access to our representatives,” said Stover.

The key to good security, according to Stover, is based on three components: awareness, accountability and measurability (if you can’t measure, you can’t manage).

Stover noted that there are always “red flags” surrounding the behavior of potential trouble makers, who often suffer from mental instability. For example, there were 70 red flags connected with Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech. Similar red flags should have been recognized for Jared Lee Loughner, the Tucson killer. His website postings and history of mental instability should have been tracked by law enforcement officials.

“Law enforcement must take a more proactive approach when it comes to sharing information about potential risky individuals. The Baker Act, for example, makes it a crime to send verbal or written threats to an elected official. This can be tracked,” said Stover.
The bottom line, according in Stover, is that during community events hosted by members of Congress, police manpower needs must be evaluated. One step is to have a uniformed police presence or at least a plain clothes detective monitoring the crowd. If such procedures were followed in Tucson, Stover believes that the number of victims would have been minimized.

These precautions are not just for law enforcement, says Stover, who recommends that all of us need a plan when out in public places with large crowds. Like the flight attendants who tell you where the exits are so you can escape in an emergency, you need to have a plan to escape when danger threatens.

Like many people, Stover thinks that Sarah Palin was out of line in her response to the Tucson killings because it stirred up more controversy. But there are threats every day and rhetoric is not the root cause. It is important to study how people are expressing themselves and their actions to see if they pose a real threat. The Tucson killer’s behavior was tracked for 2 years and yet no one intervened.

“When you have a poor economy and people are under stress, the threat level rises and people become more agitated. In many instances people can’t afford their medications and they stop taking it, which can lead to violent behavior. We have to be vigilant,” concluded Stover.

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