In July 1981 Mr. DeProspero was put in charge of the presidential protective detail — Mr. Parr was promoted to assistant director of the Secret Service — and initiated new measures to improve security.
These included placing agents at hospital trauma centers closest to the locations of presidential visits, and using magnetometers to screen guests at presidential events away from the White House. He pressed for the installation of bulletproof glass on White House windows that did not already have them, and for the use of tents for presidents to walk through from their limousine to the entrance of a hotel or other building...
James A. Baker III, Mr. Reagan’s chief of staff during his first term, said Mr. DeProspero had also navigated the safety worries of the first lady, Nancy Reagan, as well as the concerns of White House staff members who did not want overzealous security to impede the president from interacting with voters, especially during his 1984 re-election campaign.
“To block off intersections for 30 or 40 minutes, you keep traffic waiting and lines stall — you lose votes!” Mr. Baker said in a telephone interview. “Bobby handled all that extraordinarily well.”
Mr. DeProspero started in 1965 as part of an influx of new agents hired to strengthen the agency after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.
Mr. DeProspero developed a reputation as a quiet, forceful and relentless leader during his two decades protecting Mr. Reagan, as well as Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter, and Vice Presidents Spiro T. Agnew, Nelson Rockefeller and Ford.
Mr. DeProspero was promoted to assistant director of training for the Secret Service in 1985 and retired the next year. For the next nine years he was the president of O’Gara Protective Services, a security firm. [clicking on the link "assistant director of training" will take you to my blog and this photo (click on image to enlarge):]
A documentary about his career, “The Man Behind the Suit,” was released in 2016 [I was Assistant Producer for this excellent documentary- my name appears twice at the end]
"Mr. DeProspero [left] was still a teacher when President Kennedy was killed. He recalled tearing up as he listened to news of the assassination on his car radio as he was driving home.
“I thought, ‘What is the guy doing who’s the head of the detail [Gerald Behn]?’ ” he recalled to The Associated Press. “He must be suffering as much as anyone else.”
Bob was a true class act. I was touched when he wrote to me out of the blue in 2011 with positive comments about my work. We e-mailed and corresponded a number of times after that (he even sent me a Christmas card once). We also spoke on the phone a couple times, as he had graciously invited my wife and I down to his daughter Robin's home for Thanksgiving in 2016 (Joe Petro would also be there). Unfortunately, we could not make it, much to my regret, but that is another story. I cherish the times I spoke to and corresponded with Bob. As I mentioned before, I was somewhat embarrassed by my criticism of the Kennedy Detail agents (before Bob's time in the agency, mind you). I sent an autographed copy of my first book to Bob with a note stating that I believed President Kennedy would have lived if he was on the detail then.
Mr. D, Robert DeProspero, has passed away. 12/31/1938-3/4/2019
A Secret Service legend---and my favorite agent---has passed away. Robert DeProspero, who served from 1965-1986 and was head of President Reagans detail for several years...simply the best. Godspeed, Bobby.
I had the supreme pleasure of quite a pleasant surprise in 2011: Mr. DeProspero wrote to me out of the blue with a very nice and inspiring message of encouragement. I confess to being slightly embarrassed for being such a critic of the agency's performance on 11/22/63 (before his time, mind you), but he didn't seem to mind.
I had the honor of speaking to him a couple times in 2016 (he generously invited my wife and I to his house for Thanksgiving. To my supreme regret, we could not make it...I really regret not making it now). We also corresponded and I even had the pleasure of speaking to his daughter, also an esteemed member of the Secret Service.
I am very happy I was able to be an Associate Producer of the documentary about his life, THE MAN BEHIND THE SUIT.
I am saddened by his passing but heartened by the example of the life he led. He truly left his mark on the world.
"In the months after the attack [3/30/81-Reagan assassination attempt], DeProspero took over Reagan's security detail. He imposed a raft of new security requirements, some of which remain standard Secret Service protocol. He is credited with the agency's decision to begin using magnetometers to screen guests to all presidential visits away from White House. Presidential advisors had long resisted such electronic frisking, fearing it might alienate invited donors and constituents. DeProspero also enacted the policy, still in force today, of stationing an agent at the closest trauma hospital whenever the president travels. DeProspero also successfully pushed for the installation of bulletproof glass on many White House windows, over the objections of the mansion's historical preservationists.
Eight members of Mr. DeProspero’s detail became assistant or deputy directors of the Secret Service, and two, Lewis Merletti and Brian Stafford, rose to become director."