By Angela French
Since the declaration of the pandemic, each day, more cities and countries release lists of “essential only” workers as the world grapples with the deadly COVID-19 outbreak. At the Department of State, teleworking has been authorized on an unprecedented scale. However, the men and women that protect Department facilities in the United States continue to work around the clock, making sure outside threats remain at bay.
The Diplomatic Security Service’s (DSS) uniformed protection officers (UPOs) are seen by employees every day when they enter and leave the workplace. Always vigilant, they check badges to verify that only authorized individuals may enter Department facilities. UPOs also conduct night patrols to ensure facilities are secure, and they guarantee only approved vehicles enter a Department complex.
As part of DSS’s core mission to protect the Department’s facilities, people, and information, more than 1,300 UPOs continue to guard 50 Department buildings throughout the United States. UPOs have a wide range of responsibilities including managing access control points, and surveillance detection. This surveillance detection includes 15 K-9 teams that routinely sweep the Harry S. Truman Building, annexes, and other locations, as well as vehicles in search of explosives. Additionally, the division has a trained and equipped active shooter response team. UPOs also staff the 24/7 National Domestic Operations Security Control Center. A special operations unit handles VIP visits and security during protests, demonstrations, and functions involving the secretary of state.
Through hot summers and snowy winters, natural disasters, and even global pandemics, these essential employees remain vigilant, making sure the Department is secure.
Angela French is a public affairs specialist with the Diplomatic Security Service.