The Not So Secret Service
Posted: April 13, 2015, 2:15 p.m.
by Laura Gregory.
The United States Secret Service has long been considered one of the most respected and elite groups of individuals in the nation. These servicemen and women are held to the highest standards while on the job due to the nature of their work: protecting the most important, and arguably the most powerful, individual in our nation — the president.
Lately, though, the Secret Service has received some unwanted media attention for a number of embarrassing mishaps that happened on the job, and these missteps have given the highly revered agency a very public black eye.
During the Obama administration, the Secret Service has overlooked incidents such as three Secret Service agents getting wildly drunk while they were supposed to be protecting the president in Amsterdam. Then, there was the time a man fired at the White House with a semi-automatic rifle while one of the Obama’s daughters was inside, and nobody noticed until four days later. And what about the episode in Columbia when eight Secret Service agents brought as many as 21 prostitutes to their hotel while doing advance work for a presidential summit in that country?
Also making news was the time the Secret Service didn’t notice that an armed man with a previous assault record shared an elevator with the president. As if that wasn’t bad enough, just three days later an armed veteran ran past security and made it deep inside the main floor of the White House before being tackled by an off-duty member of the Secret Service.
The most recent incident occurred in March when, after a night of drinking, two senior Secret Service agents drove a car through a White House security barricade into the middle of an active investigation of a suspicious package.
Each of these events raises more doubts and questions concerning the standards to which the individuals who are responsible for protecting our nation’s leader are held. In an attempt to rehabilitate the agency’s reputation among the American people, the Secret Service director has been replaced three times since these embarrassing incidents really began to ramp up. That, in and of itself, is embarrassing!
A Washington Post article covering the recent March episode said it “presents an early test for the Secret Service’s new director, Joseph P. Clancy, who was appointed by Obama last month after a string of security lapses at the White House and other embarrassing missteps and had vowed to restore the agency’s once-stellar reputation.”
While hiring a new director may be a good first step in restoring the agency’s reputation, it seems as though the Secret Service needs a crash course in Public Relations 101.
An article featured on PR News cites Deb Hileman, president and CEO of the Institute of Crisis Management (ICM), “who pointed to ongoing ICM research showing that two thirds of organizational crises are both predictable and preventable.”
Hileman stated, “Someone must have known this was coming before it blew up in their face . . . If these issues had been addressed back in 2009, the Secret Service wouldn’t be having a crisis today.”
While these recent incidents may be embarrassing for the Secret Service as an entire agency, they are also embarrassing to the United States in the eyes of the rest of the world. When mishaps like these continue to occur, the agency looks weak and unorganized. This appearance poses a major security threat to the White House and the important individuals who reside inside.
It is crucial not only to the safety of our president, but also to the safety of our entire nation, that the Secret Service gets to work on fixing its image.