Executive Protection Profile: Protecting N.J.'s Governor

A profile of Debbie Baker, N.J. State Police Executive Protection Unit


Baker and Whitman are now friends. Whitman said that will not have any impact on her probe of the EPU: "It's not a question of if you knew anybody on the unit prejudicing you. It's about working together to see if there is anything more that can or should be done."

After Whitman left office in January 2001, Baker was assigned to her successor, Donald DiFrancesco. He recalled being at a meeting at Drumthwacket on the morning of Sept. 11.

"Baker came in and said, `Governor, a plane just hit the World Trade Center,'" DiFrancesco said. "Twenty minutes later she came back and said, `A second plane hit; we have to get out of here.'" He didn't hesitate to follow her instructions to go to State Police headquarters in Ewing.

"She's one of the best," he said.

In 2005, Gov. Richard Codey promoted Baker to head the EPU. Corzine kept her in that job.

Two days before the crash, she said all governors need to be taught about security.

"Governors think, `No one is going to hurt me,'" Baker said. "The chance of us taking a bullet (for the governor) all sounds very sexy, I guess, but that's what we're supposed to do."

Last year Corzine chief of staff Tom Shea told Baker that the governor, planning to inspect the maximum-security New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, didn't want to send the normal advance team of troopers because he wanted the inspection to be a surprise.

"It's like, `No. That's not going to happen. That can't happen,'" Baker recalled. Sometimes, she said, "I really need to put my foot down."