By MILLARD K. IVES
It may have looked like they were ready for war or some deranged person looking for his late Social Security benefits.
But it was only Federal Protective Service officers with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who were conducting a random training operation early Tuesday morning when they surprisingly showed up at the Social Security Administration office in downtown Leesburg.
With their blue and white SUVs circled around the Main Street office, at least one official was posted on the door with a semiautomatic rifle, randomly checking identifications. And other officers, some with K-9s, sifted through the building.
“I thought someone was upset about not getting there check,” said Laura Kelly, who took a friend to the office on Tuesday.
According to one Homeland official in the Washington, D.C. office, Operation Shield. is an effort that uses routine, unannounced visits by FPS inspectors to test the effectiveness of contract guards, or protective security officers — “detecting the presence of unauthorized persons and potentially disruptive or dangerous activities.”
Part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FPS is the federal law enforcement agency that provides integrated security and law enforcement services to over 9,000 federally-owned and leased buildings, facilities, properties and other assets.
Officers on the scene would not speak to the press and by noon they were gone. But Thomas Milligan, district manager for the Social Security Administration office, said while the visit came as a surprise, the office was ready. He added the officers checked videos, security measures, alarm system and more. “It was to make sure security measures are in place and properly followed,” Milligan said.