EL PASO, Texas - You may not have known that the City has its own version of a "secret service" detail.They are called "dignitary protection" officers and every mayor since the mid-1990s has requested them at some point in his term.
Mayor Oscar Leeser said he has asked for them twice, once at a border conference and another time at an event at the international bridge. Leeser said on both occasions the officers were not so much for his own protection, but more for the additional security of the visiting public figures.
DPOs stand guard over city council meetings every Tuesday, and can usually be seen standing in the back of council chambers keeping watch.
Prior to the meetings, DPOs do a sweep of council chambers, and check the seats, looking for anything suspicious.
The dignitary protection detail is composed of El Paso Police Officers who are specially trained to protect well-known individuals, who must make public appearances at times. They are available at the request of the mayor but may also make the decision to appear on their own. EPPD can evaluate and event and decide the detail should be dispatched.
Though former mayor John Cook said he rarely used the detail, there were a couple of times he wishes he had.
"I was in the tunnel of the Sun Bowl, without dignitary protection, and somebody ended up punching me in the back of the head, and then disappearing into the crown" Cook said. "So I think there's a useful purpose for dignitary protection, you don't need to go overboard on it."
The detail has provided protection for visiting public figures ranging from Gov. Rick Perry to Kim Kardashian.