Given Multiple Embarassing Incidents in the Past Few Years?

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Given multiple embarassing incidents in the past few years, how is morale in the Secret Service?

A close friend of mine, who I see a couple times a week, is a former Secret Service agent. He doesn't talk about it too much on a regular basis for understandable reasons. However, I convinced him to offer a broad perspective on some bullet points, in hopes that the subject would be demystified a little bit and that Quora would perhaps enjoy a little peek behind the curtain. I'll be paraphrasing a lot, but here's what we discussed. The Biggest Misconception Most people hear the term Secret Service agent and automatically think about the men in suits and sunglasses guarding the President of the United States. The fact is, that's only a small faction of the Secret Service and for the most part, it's the minority. Most Secret Service agents aren't on protection detail with the president. In fact, many aren't even protection detail at all. The Secret Service has two primary missions. The Protective Mission - Encompasses protection of, among others, the President, the Vice President, former presidents, visiting heads of state, and major presidential and vice presidential candidates. My friend went on to say that protection extends to Congressmen, Foreign Dignitaries, etc. The Investigative Mission - Entails the investigation and enforcement of a variety of crimes, to include, but not limited to, counterfeiting, financial institution fraud, computer and telecommunications fraud, access device fraud, and money laundering violations. A majority of agents are involved in investigations. This also, for some, can entail undercover work. It should be noted too that ALL agents, even those seeking protection detail, are required to be in investigation detail for two years prior to acceptance into protection detail (Unless this has changed in the last few years). He went on to say that even if a Special Forces operative (Recon, SEAL, etc.) is looking to join the Secret Service under protection detail, t must also still work two years under investigations. He told me that if an agent is also looking to have any sort of family life, investigations detail should be pursued. That said, if an agent is working undercover, the time spent away from family depends on how long undercover operations go. But most are investigating through paper trails, computers, and other various forms of evidence. Now if someone is looking into protection detail, it's best for those that aren't pursuing a family life outside of the Secret Service. My friend dabbled in both. He was in protection, traveling to and fro, finding himself in many different types of places at the drop of a dime, including aircraft carriers. He was never on presidential detail, but often protected others mentioned above. Pay and Work Schedule The yearly schedule for protection detail often varies. Sometimes an agent will be 60 days on, then 30 days off. Sometimes much more. Presidential details are likely much more expansive, requiring agents to spend even more time away from home. But like he said, the most common misconception is that all agents protect the president, or are involved in protection of any other parties that have the need. Not true. Many are involved in investigations. According to him, as well as the official Secret Service website. Special agents are generally hired at the GL-7 or GL-9 grade levels depending on qualifications and education. Based on those grade levels and the assigned geographic area, the 2010 starting salary range is $43,964 - $74,891. An additional 25% Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) will be added to locality pay. While assigned to field offices special agents are normally assigned to work a 40-hour (normal business) workweek (e.g, 9.00 a.m.- 5.30 p.m.), Monday through Friday. Due to the receipt of LEAP, special agents usually work an average of two additional hours per day. During certain assignment the hours worked by special agents will vary depending on the nature of these assignments, which include, but are not limited to, conducting criminal investigative and protective assignments and/or being assigned to a protective detail. Special agents are required to work hours other than normal business hours (e.g, 12 a.m.-8 a.m, 4 p.m.-12 a.m, 10 a.m.-6 p.m, 6 a.m.-2 p.m, 2 p.m.-10 p.m, etc.) with the addition to 2 or more LEAP hours, on a daily basis. Training Special agent trainees must successfully complete the 10 week Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's (FLETC) Basic Criminal Investigator Training program in Glynco, Georgia, and the 17-week Special Agent Basic Training program at the James J. Rowley Training Center outside Washington, D.C. Failure to pass either training program on the first attempt will result in separation from the United States Secret Service. Overall, being a Secret Service agent is a huge commitment, beyond the fact that if you go on protection detail or find yourself in undercover situations, you're putting your life on the line. Even after he left the Secret Service, when the planes hit the towers on 9/11, his wife got a strange call. The person on the other end was asking for his Secret Service badge number and such. Long story short, despite being retired from the Secret Service, he was almost reactivated into active duty because of 9/11. Yes, it's a huge commitment. It has to be right for you. The lifestyle has to be manageable and you have to be willing to follow a rather irregular schedule where at a moments notice, you can find yourself in another state, another country, or odd surprises like aircraft carriers and such. For some it's a 40 hour week. For others, it's 30 days, 60 days, or more away from friends and family. Speaking from my own perspective after our discussions, those that choose this career path, despite the danger, trials, and tribulations, are heroes. Much like their soldier brothers and sisters, as well as those in all branches of law enforcement. Any time you give up so much for the good of your country and its citizens, you're a hero in my book.

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