A federal agency submitted this week a formal warning letter to the U.S. Secret Service’s senior management to address the issue.
The inspector general who monitors the Secret Service said that auditors found officer safety issues that may endanger the service, its officers, and the people they are trying to protect. The inspector general also wrote in the letter, that officers aren’t allowed to take ‘adequate breaks’ because of the busy scheduling or time off between shifts.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General found the first issues with the service in September 2014 when a fence jumper was able to get inside the White House. Back then, the federal inspectors found two Secret Service officers napping at their posts. One officer was within the White House complex while the other one was located at an embassy.
On Thursday, the inspector general concluded that the findings are just the tip of the iceberg and there may be other underlying issues related to the service’s work schedules. Yet, the Secret Service said that the two agents did not fall asleep on duty due to tight schedules.
Secret Service investigators learned that one officer felt drowsy after taking a pill against cold. Yet, although the officer had a very busy schedule, most of the time he was supposed to sit and sleep in a plane designed to get President Obama home from a visit to Kenya.
But the inspector general found that the man worked 60 hours overtime the month before the incident. Yet, the service said that the officer also had five days off and had only worked 24 hours overtime in the period prior to the incident.
The service told reporters that it did not agree to OI’s conclusions that the staffers fell asleep because of overtime work. It also reported that the OI was briefed on the corrections made to the schedule.
“With these errors corrected, we fail to understand how the OIG could logically arrive at the same conclusion,”
a spokesperson for the service added.
The Secret Service also suggested that there is no need for a management alert as the OIG asked because the two officers were reported and disciplined for their behavior. The service argued that the alert does not add new data or value to the investigation.
But over-scheduling is an ongoing issue especially at the White House where officers complained that they must work on their days off due to staff shortages.
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