Executive Protection Academy

Executive Protection Academy

Incident with Biden's motorcade: Coincidence or a set-up?

On the evening of Sunday, December 17, as U.S. President Joe Biden and the First Lady were leaving an event with campaign staff in Wilgminton, Delaware, a vehicle struck a pickup truck that was part of the presidential convoy, used to block a street during the event.

The incident occurred just as the president was leaving his campaign headquarters, at a distance of 40 meters, while walking on a "seam". Both the president and Secret Service agents stopped in surprise upon hearing the crash, directing their attention to the noise for almost 4 seconds, until they "woke up" and evacuated the president in his armored vehicle.

Some users on social networks tried to justify the behavior of the agents; however, one cannot defend the indefensible. The "seams," i.e., the exposures to the higher-risk environment generated by walking to or from a vehicle, are scenarios where most of the attacks on prominent public figures, including U.S. presidents, have occurred. There is no reason why these exposures should not be overcome as quickly as possible under normal conditions and, even more so, if something extraordinary happens at such times, as was the case that night. It may be understandable for an officer to stand by to assess the threat, but the protégé has no business standing exposed at a "seam," but must be evacuated immediately.

Instead, both the president and the agents remained distracted, like curious observers, prolonging their exposure in the most statistically dangerous situation for the protégé. It took the Secret Service agents almost four seconds to "wake up" and evacuate the president in his armored vehicle.

We explain more about the "seams" in this video:

However, there is something even more worrying in this situation. Shortly before the attack on Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003, a motorist crashed his vehicle into the Serbian leader's convoy. At the time, it all seemed like a completely benign incident; however, it turned out that this incident was a "set-up", a reaction test by the criminals to gauge the response of the victim's security team, which was executed shortly thereafter.

You can learn more about the "tune-ups" in this video:

The White House reported that, in this case, it was an alcoholic driver and that it was a casual incident. Let us hope so, although we also know that in the protection of a president nothing can be taken lightly, and Secret Service specialists are aware of that. There are certainly many lessons to be learned from this incident. All of us who do operational work know that we make mistakes in our missions. Secret Service agents, despite the myth that surrounds them, are human beings like all of us, with successes as well as opportunities for improvement. Mistakes happen in operations, so it is important to learn lessons and improve procedures to minimize the damage they can cause.

Hopefully this incident is just an isolated case; however, if it was a "tune-up", I am sure the officers will gain valuable lessons that will make them more effective in the future.