- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The U.S. Secret Service, charged with protecting the president and some of the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates running for the 2016 election is facing a shortage of manpower at a time of peak demand, the agency told Congress on Tuesday.

Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy said the agency is focused on “human capital needs across the organization” and recruiting enough agents to ease the demands placed on the existing force, Reuters reported.

While Mr. Clancy told the House Appropriations Committee panel the Secret Service is making progress in hiring more agents, “we have yet to see the desired impact on our overall staffing levels due to increased attrition.”

The Secret Service currently has about 6,200 agents but hopes to increase that number to 7,600 agents by fiscal year 2019, Committee Chairman John Carter of Texas said during Tuesday’s hearing.

Demand for the agents’ services is peaking, with Republican and Democratic national conventions slated for this summer and the general elections in November followed by presidential inaugural events in January.

Mr. Carter, a Republican, pointed out the loss of 19 agents in the last four months and questioned whether the agency’s hiring goals were “obtainable” with the agency “losing more agents that they have brought on.”

Mr. Clancy said the agency is exploring new initiatives to lure more applicants and retain current agents, Reuters reported.

The Secret Service has received much criticism in recent years after several security lapses and reports of mismanagement.

In 2012, it was revealed that some agents working on a presidential trip to Colombia had been involved with prostitutes. In 2014, agents failed to stop a man who jumped the White House fence and ran across the yard into the presidential mansion before he was apprehended.

During a recent campaign rally for GOP front-runner Donald Trump in Radford, Virginia, a Secret Service agent threw a Time magazine photographer to the ground. The service is now investigating that incident.

Secret Service agents formed a wall around Mr. Trump during his rally in Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday when a man rushed toward the stage, causing panic in the audience.

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