TIME White House

Secret Service Tries to Dodge Another Bullet After Latest Controversy

U.S. President Obama shakes hands with U.S. Secret Service agent Pierson after she is sworn in as first woman Director of the Secret Service in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington
Larry Downing / Reuters U.S. President Barack Obama (R) with U.S. Secret Service agent Julia Pierson (L) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, March 27, 2013.

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson defended her agency after two incidents within a month saw the White House security detail caught up in controversy

The head of the Secret Service is looking to reassure lawmakers that the latest instance of misconduct by agents traveling with President Barack Obama was an isolated incident.

“I have made clear to the entire workforce that I will not tolerate unprofessional behavior or misconduct at any level—both on and off duty,” Secret Service Director Julia Pierson told senators Tuesday, CNN reports. “I remain committed to swiftly and vigorously addressing any instances of misconduct that are brought to my attention.”

Late last month, three agents charged with protecting Obama during a trip to the Netherlands were forced to take administrative leave after one passed out in a hotel hallway following a group drinking binge. That came after two secret service personnel crashed a rental car in a small Florida Keys town on March 7. A local trooper detected “a slight odor of alcohol” on the agent driving, the Miami Herald reports.And in May 2012, the agency made headlines after several agents were disciplined for boisterous reveling and soliciting prostitutes ahead of the President’s trip to Cartagena, Colombia.

A year after that incident, Obama appointed Pierson to lead the agency, the first woman to fill the position.

“These are isolated incidents of misconduct and we’re working every day to correct our behavior,” she told reporters as she was leaving the Capitol.


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