Heck says military training makes him safer

Rep. Joe Heck says he may not be as concerned about his personal security as other members of Congress because his military training has given him tools to spot potential threats.

"For me it is a matter of situational awareness," said Heck, a Republican freshman sworn into office last week. "My training and background has put me in a position where I probably am more in tune with what’s going on around me than the average individual."

"Since I have been elected I have had people come up to me in restaurants and on the street and say, ‘Hey are you Joe Heck?’ At that moment you are trying to size the person up. Is this someone who is glad to see me, or someone who wants to lay into me."

As a former state senator and as someone who campaigned for Congress last fall in a politically charged environment, "I’ve never felt physically in danger, but I believe I can defuse those types of situations to keep them from escalating to physical assault." He did not offer details how he would do that.

Heck enrolled in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1991 and currently is a colonel. He was deployed to Iraq for three months in 2008. Until he was sworn in to Congress, he also headed a consulting firm that provided emergency care training to police and security firms.

Heck said lawmakers need to be cognizant of their safety, but also available to constituents.

"We have to balance how safe you want to be with how restrictive you want to be," Heck said. "The idea that some have talked about to have a protective detail for all 535 members of Congress is a bit much."

Heck said he plans to alert Metro police when he holds gatherings "but we don’t expect them now to provide a detail to us every time we go out and hold an event."

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