US Secret Service manpower shortage as campaigns ramp up

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WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. Secret Service, tasked with simultaneously protecting President Barack Obama and some of the Republican and Democratic candidates now running to replace him next year, is facing a manpower shortfall at a time of peak demand, the agency told Congress on Tuesday.

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Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy told a House Appropriations panel the agency is focused on "human capital needs across the organization" and accruing enough agents to ease overtime demands on the existing force.

The Secret Service hopes to have 7,600 agents in its ranks by fiscal year 2019, up from the current figure of approximately 6,200, Committee Chairman John Carter of Texas said during Tuesday's hearing.

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US Secret Service manpower shortage as campaigns ramp up

Spectators line the sides of Pennsylvania Avenue as U.S. Secret Service agents walk alongside the presidential limousine during the Inaugural Parade for U.S. President Donald J. Trump January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump was sworn in today as the 45th president of the United States.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Members of the Secret Service are pictured before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States Friday -- capping his improbable journey to the White House and beginning a four-year term that promises to shake up Washington and the world.

(ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division officers pose for a photo with the Budweiser Clydesdale horse outside the debate hall before the second 2016 presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, October 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

A Secret Service agent stands watch as U.S. President Barack Obama arrives aboard the Marine One helicopter at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport in New York, U.S. June 8, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. Secret Service agents provide security for President Barack Obama and Air Force One in Peroria, Illinois, February 12, 2009.

(REUTERS/Jim Young)

U.S. Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama walks alongside a secret service agent to his car before a campaign rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 27, 2008. Federal agents have broken up a plot to assassinate Obama and shoot or decapitate 102 black people in a Tennessee murder spree, the ATF said on Monday.

(REUTERS/Jason Reed)

A U.S. Secret Service agent (C) steps in to intervene after Fox News Channel television talk show host Bill O'Reilly (L) shoved Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Barack Obama's National Trip Director Marvin Nicholson (R) while trying to get to the Senator at the end of a campaign rally in Nashua, New Hampshire, January 5, 2008.

(REUTERS/Jim Bourg)

U.S. President George W. Bush's pet dog, Spot, walks next to the president's U.S. Secret Service security detail after stepping off Marine One in Waco, July 21, 2003. The president and first lady were heading back to Washington on Air Force One after spending a long weekend at their Central Texas ranch outside Crawford.

(REUTERS/Larry Downing)

The new armored presidential limousine, which was debuted as part of the 56th Presidential Inauguration, is parked on display in a garage in the Secret Service headquarters in Washington February 5, 2009.

(REUTERS/Molly Riley)

A Secret Service agent waits for U.S. President Barack Obama, U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha to board Marine One as they depart Yosemite National Park, California, U.S., June 19, 2016.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

US Secret Service keep watch from atop the Eisenhower Executive Office Building as US President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush walk across Pennslyvania Avenue to Blair House in Washington, DC, 09 July 2007 to attend a farewell party for Counselor to the President Dan Bartlett.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

A US Secret Service agent watches as US President George W. Bush arrives in Marine One to the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, 07 July, 2006, after a trip to Illinois.

(PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

A US Secret Service agent keeps an eye on the audience as US President George W. Bush delivers the commencement address at Calvin College 21 May 2005 in the Calvin College Field House in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

(TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The presidential limousine, escorted by Secret Service personnel, moves along Pennsylvania Avenue following the second term inauguration of US President George W. Bush at the US Capitol (BACKGROUND) in Washington, DC.

(DOUG MILLS/AFP/Getty Images)

Secret Service personnel keep apace of the presidential limousine during the Inaugural Parade along Pennsylvania 20 January 2005 in Washington, DC. US President George W. Bush was sworn in for a second term as president of the United States 2 January 2005 under unprecedented security on the steps of the US Capitol.

(PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Two Secret Service Agents stand outside a jet as National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice (R) is briefed on board by her deputy Stephen Hadley (L) at TSTC Airport prior to meeting with US President George W. Bush 26 July 2004 in Waco, Texas. Rice and Bush are expected to discuss the 911 Commission's report at Bush's 1,600 acre ranch in Crawford, Texas.

(STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)

US Secret Service Officers from the Counter Assult Team (CAT) stand by with automatic weapons 09 October, 2003, in Manchester, New during a visit by US President George W. Bush to deliver two speeches. Bush defended his tax cut as the proper medicine for the ailing economy, and the war as the right remedy in Iraq. 'I acted because I was not about to leave the security of the American people in the hands of a madman. I was not about to stand by and wait and trust in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein,' he declared.

(PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

US Secret Service sharpshooters guard the arrival of US President Bill Clinton aboard Air Force One at Fort Lauderdale International Airport 10 December, 1999 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The President is spending the day in Florida raising money for democratic candidates.

(TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Secret Service agents keep watch from a balcony in the Old Executive Office building as President Bill Clinton walked over from the White House for a meeting with a Jewish group marking the 5th anniversary of the South Lawn handshake.

(Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Caroline Kennedy & secret service agent during Caroline Kennedy Playing Tennis In Central Park at Central Park in New York City, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Secret Service agents watching Franklin Roosevelt in 1937.

(Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

United States President Lyndon Johnson and members of the secret service exit the Marines 1 Presidential helicopter, 1965.

(Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

E.A. Wildy (left), of the Treasury Secret Service, gives a demonstration of Uncle Sam's latest lie detector, using M.R. Allen, secret service agent in charge of Washington, as his subject, before the United States Secret Service Men's convention here. The device, which looks like a super portable radio, is called the Keeler polygraph. Three long needles record the pulse, heart action and skin reaction of the subject on a graph. If you are not telling the truth, Uncle Sam will find out through this little instrument.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)
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While Clancy said the Secret Service was making progress in hiring more agents, "we have yet to see the desired impact on our overall staffing levels due to increased attrition."

Clancy testified at a hearing to review the agency's funding needs for the fiscal year starting on Oct. 1.

Demands of the mission are peaking, he added, with Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions slated for this summer, the general elections in November and presidential inaugural events in January.

Carter cited the loss of 19 agents in the last four months and the large amounts of overtime hours agents have had to put in on the president's detail, on the campaign trail and in the uniformed division.

Carter, a Republican, questioned whether the service's hiring goals were "obtainable" with the agency "losing more agents than they have brought on board."

SEE ALSO: 2016 hopeful most likely to be elected president revealed

Clancy responded that the agency is exploring initiatives to lure more applicants and retain current agents.

The Secret Service was rocked in 2012 when it surfaced that some agents working a presidential trip to Colombia were involved with prostitutes. In 2014, agents failed to stop a man who jumped the White House fence, ran across the lawn and made it into the mansion before he was apprehended.

More recently, during a rally for presidential candidate Donald Trump in Radford, Virginia, a Time magazine photographer was grabbed by the neck and shoved to the ground by a Secret Service agent. An agency spokeswoman said the service is investigating the incident.

Besides protecting the president and presidential candidates, Secret Service agents investigate financial crimes such as counterfeiting of U.S. currency and credit card and fraud.

(Reporting by Clarece Polke, editing by Richard Cowan and Alan Crosby)

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