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The Hardest Events to Securely Protect in the U.S.

Updated June 14, 2019 1.6m views12 items

Humans aren't the calmest group of mammals on Earth. Sure, we're pretty social - we show it on a regular basis by coming together for things like political conventions, sporting events, and orgies of competitive shopping (AKA Black Friday). But for every Super Bowl enjoyed by millions, there are thousands of people working event security to keep the wild hordes at least sort of civilized.

Of course, unruly crowd members aren't the only concern in the world; especially in today's world of armed lunatics and terrorists. For that reason, some event security can come to look and act decidedly military in nature. Sometimes, it is the actual military showing up in unmarked Suburbans, jet, or full on clown costumes. (Looking at you, Switzerland.)  But no matter what they wear, what they drive, or how they act, these brave men and women stand ready to protect humanity from itself. Check out the circumstances that call for security measures that go above and beyond retired old security guards.
  • The Super Bowl

    Photo: Sean Molin Photography / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    It's become something of a tradition for the Air Force to show up in the skies over the Super Bowl, wowing the crowd with big noises and impressive formations. And positioned as it is on the West Coast, and separated from very bad men by only a few thousand miles of open water, San Francisco (the site of Super Bowl 50) is a particularly vulnerable target for attacks from the air and sea.

    Or it might be, if not for that flight of F-15s and F-22s running combat air patrol, far above at Angels 20. An AWACS radar control plane helps them keep an eye on the skies, as well as provides a flight vector for nearby Reaper drones, V-22 Ospreys, and attack helicopters. Forget that little brown ball - the real show is up in the sky. 

  • Presidential Appearances

    The Secret Service doesn't follow the President; the President follows them. All Presidential appearances are events in themselves, and prior to every event, the Secret Service invades every location anywhere near where he's expected to be. Nobody really knows the extent of the President's security. The Secret Service comes equipped with Sig Sauer .357s, FN P90, and H&K MP5 submachine guns, Remington 870 shotguns, SR-16 (M-16 variant) assault rifles, .300 Magnum bolt-action sniper rifles and another AR-15-based sniper rifle.

    Their tank-like Chevy Suburbans have enough armor, weapons, and tech to make Nick Fury dangerous, to say nothing of the President's personal armored Caddy, "The Beast."  And that's just the stuff we know about.

  • Campaign Stops

    Photo: Hillary Clinton / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    The Secret Service doesn't just protect the President - those who might be president go under the big black umbrella, too. This practice dates back to the 1960s, after the assassination of Robert Kennedy, brother of JFK and the presumptive presidential election winner of 1964. Starting in early July of election years, anyone polling at more than 5 percent in at least 10 states, and who has raised at least $2 million, qualifies for a Secret Service detail.

    The Service provides everyone on security detail with almost the same level of protection as the current president, including security before, during, and after campaign stops. Candidates can decline Secret Service protection if they like, and can enlist their own security forces to whatever extent desired. But most take the Service up on their offer - because nobody wants to be the next Bobby Kennedy. 

  • Anywhere the Pope Visits

    The Swiss Guard is to the Pope as the Secret Service is to the President. Technically speaking, the Swiss Guard is a mercenary outfit comprised of single males of (as you'd expect) Swiss citizenship. The Guard has long protected royalty from France, Spain, and the Vatican, and is one of the primary historical reasons Switzerland has maintained neutrality in Europe.

    The Swiss Guard works with the Vatican's own independent police forces to provide protection for the Pope anywhere he visits. While they might look like escapees from a Renaissance fair, the Guard's brightly colored pantaloons aren't just places to hang a sword. Those slightly clownish frocks conceal a completely modern arsenal, including SIG P220, Glock 19, and Steyr TMP pistols, as well as MP5 submachine guns.

    All wielded by battle-hardened mercenary soldiers with no compunctions about using them. Because prayer is a weapon - but 900 rounds a minute are more reliable.