Local Politics

Expert: Private security could have better protected Giffords

Posted January 14, 2011 10:00 p.m. EST
Updated January 14, 2011 11:02 p.m. EST

— A private security detail could have better protected Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot during a supermarket meet-and-greet in Arizona this past weekend, a North Carolina-based security expert said Friday.

“When you are allowing anyone in that close, there are a lot of threats that are there,” said Ricky Tucker, a law enforcement veteran who now trains officers and security personnel to protect dignitaries.

Giffords and 12 others were injured during the shooting. Six people were killed. Bystanders tackled the alleged shooter 22-year-old Jared Loughner, who authorities said showed up to the event with a semi automatic handgun.

Tucker said a private security detail, though sometimes intrusive, could have helped keep the shooter away.

“Most of these people are not going to want security around them,” Tucker said. “It takes away a lot of privacy.”

Without a credible threat and because Giffords felt safe in her home district, it would have been very difficult to predict and prepare for such a tragic event, Tucker said.

WRAL spoke with Congressman GK Butterfield earlier this week about the Arizona shooting. He said holding public events is a vital part of the job.

“Four-hundred thirty-five members of the house, 100 senators - that's a lot of people to have a security detail,” Butterfield said.

“It could be a very expensive proposition because its not just one or two people covering this person. If it’s done right, you're talking 10, 15, 20 people to get out and constantly stay ahead,” Tucker said.

Advanced research and location scouting is also time consuming, but crucial, he said.

“Politicians as a rule get a lot of threats in the mail, on the phone. I think they are going to have to take these threats a little more seriously,” Tucker said.