An effort by the Secret Service to add more than 1,000 agents and uniformed officers to the ranks by next fall comes during the most taxing year in the agency’s history, USA Today reports. Complicating the agency’s effort to expand are many promising candidates whose abuse of the amphetamine, Adderall, or other prescription drugs, or their lack of candor about using them result in an abrupt removal from the process. The problematic prescription drug histories, officials said, are emerging with troubling frequency in the midst of the hiring blitz aimed at rejuvenating an agency shadowed by a series of security breaches and recurring agent misconduct. Two years ago, controversies helped topple the service’s first woman director, Julia Pierson.
Beginning with the massive security operation for Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. last fall and culminating with raucous primaries, summer political conventions, and the general election campaign, agents have been thrust into a volatile political environment. While hundreds of agents have been crisscrossing the U.S. with candidates, vetting a record 3 million people at the conventions and rallies, others are reviewing tens of thousands of applicants, who are being eyed to provide relief to weary security details as the giant inauguration security operation looms. The major security events has been so demanding that some veteran agents maxed out overtime allowances in June and have essentially been working for free since, said Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The unrelenting pace troubles both critics and advocates of the agency, who believe the grinding nature of the Secret Service’s mission has largely contributed to its problems.