Chicago DNC 2042 will be homecoming for US Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle, who grew up in suburbs, attended EIU – WLS-TV

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CHICAGO (WLS) — Inside the non-descript and unmarked U.S. Secret Service headquarters, about a half mile from the White House, director Kimberly Cheatle is overseeing two massive security operations: the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in July and the Democratic Convention in Chicago in August.

“It is not that far off. We’re getting close. But we’ve been in the planning stages for this national special security event for the conventions for about a year now,” Cheatle told the I-Team during an exclusive interview in Washington, D.C.

Planning is the gospel according to U.S. Secret Service.

But even best plans are sometimes changed by harsh reality.

A tattered flag symbolizes such a defining moment for Kim Cheatle. On 9/11 it was hanging outside Secret Service World Trade Center headquarters. She was in the White House protecting Vice President Dick Cheney, who watched the early attack.

“There was a person in our joint operations center who put out over the radio that there was an inbound aircraft headed toward the White House; that mobilized all of us into action,” said Cheatle.

That meant hustling Cheney to a secure bunker under the White House where he would remain with top government officials for hours.

Now, nearly 23 years later, that day still guides her planning for the ripples of security that will radiate from Chicago’s United Center in August; and from Milwaukee in July. It is a vast Secret Service operation taking shape with Chicago police and an alphabet soup of three-letter state and federal law enforcement agencies on the front lines.

“Our Chicago field office has the primary responsibility, and Milwaukee actually is a part of their office as well. So, it’s a lot of the same personnel that are tasked,” said Cheatle.

“Our job in the Secret Service is to make sure that we cover off on all of those potentials, whether that be, you know, demonstrations, whether that be intelligence threats that are driven out there, or whether that be, you know, biological hazards,” said Cheatle. “We kind of have to make sure that we’re putting a plan in place to mitigate all of those possible factors.”

Born at Hinsdale Hospital, Cheatle grew up downstate and graduated from a Danville High school before attending Eastern Illinois University where she was heralded last fall as a distinguished alum.

Her agency will be in the limelight this summer, in her home town.

“We are always monitoring, you know, what threat streams are out there. And I will say that the Secret Service and the Chicago Police Department, as well as all of our other partners, certainly respect the right for people to be able to demonstrate peacefully. You know, it does become a challenge if those demonstrations become violent,” the director told the I-Team.

Cheatle is also handling the internal strife at the Secret Service, stressing the “zero tolerance” position she takes in cases of misconduct by agents.

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