ATLANTA — Dozens gathered Tuesday afternoon to pay their respects to former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. It took years of planning for the Secret Service to prepare for the memorial service.
Channel 2′s Mark Winne got an exclusive look at the behind-the-scenes effort to protect dignitaries and the public.
“All eyes are on Georgia. And we wanna make sure it goes off without a hitch for the family of Mrs. Carter,” Steven Baisel, Atlanta Secret Service Special Agent in Charge, told Winne.
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Pastor Tony Lowden spoke about the Secret Service’s protection of the Carters during his tribute message.
“For 46 years, men and women of the Secret Service has made sure that she got home safe,” he said. “They left their families and traveled with Rosalynn. To make sure that she got home safe. She would say, ‘Thank you. You got me home safe.’”
Baisel says that Rosalynn Carter started receiving protection in Sept. 1976 and was the second-longest mission in its history. Even though their protection has ended, the Secret Service had an important role to play behind the scenes in the commemoration of her extraordinary life.
There were 10 Secret Service protectees in town, including President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and three former first ladies Laura Bush, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump.
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Winne spoke with Baisel on Monday afternoon the day before the tribute service. Baisel says there were six protective details to coordinate.
“You’re coordinating a lot at one time, aren’t you?” Winne asked.
“There’s a lot of coordination involved. A lot of partnerships, a lot of long hours have been worked,” Baisel replied.
“The security plan has been in place...that’s solid. It’s the logistics. Getting the protectees in one area,” he added. “Making sure that the motorcades arrive safely. Making sure that the guests are able to arrive safely.”
Baisel told Winne that the plans for Rosalynn’s service have actually be in place since Jimmy Carter was in office.
“It gets updated quite frequently. We’ve been meeting monthly for the last three years. During the pandemic, we had some changes that we did to fulfill the safety aspect but we are back on to the big plan.”
Baisel said Jimmy Carter has been receiving Secret Service protection longer than anyone in history. All the protectees left Tuesday afternoon and agents escorted Rosalynn’s hearse back to Plains.
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