Though most Americans are only familiar with the Secret Service’s role in protecting the President, the agency actually has a much wider mandate. The service has its origins as part of the Treasury Department, and continues its role in investigating financial crimes including counterfeit currency. But its role in protecting the president is still its most prestigious function, and recent lapses by Secret Service agents have called into question the professionalism of the President’s personal guard.
In March 2014 a group of secret service agents, tasked with protecting the President, were forced to take administrative leave after a drinking binge left one of them passed out in the hallway of the hotel in which they were staying. This disturbing incident came shortly after two Secret Service agents were involved in a car crash in Florida in early March. According to a Miami Herald report, the Florida trooper who arrived at the scene indicated that he had smelled alcohol.
In a world of seemingly endless threats and danger, the professionalism and responsibility of Secret Service agents cannot be overestimated. As the force most directly responsible for overseeing the protection of the United States President, the Secret Service is entrusted with a level of responsibility and prestige that few protective forces in the world can match. But with said responsibility comes an equal amount of pressure and scrutiny.
These latest indiscretions were not the only recent scandals involving Secret Service agents. In April 2012 the service was involved in a high profile incident in which members of the country’s various military and protective services were found to have been involved in sexual indiscretions immediately before the president’s arriving to Cartagena, Colombia to attend the 6th Summit of the Americas. After that incident the top brass of the Secret Service promised to clean house. Now, the service’s leadership is again being faced with a damaging scandal and the prospects of another round of reforms.