WHEN A bipartisan congressional investigation probed the inner workings of the Secret Service in 2015, it determined that the root cause of the agency’s problems was “an insular culture that has historically been resistant to change.” It seems that President Trump agrees; he has named a new leader from outside the troubled agency. Hopefully, fresh perspective will result in lasting reform.
Randolph D. “Tex” Alles, a retired Marine Corps general and acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, was tapped Tuesday to head the storied agency. Senate confirmation was not required, and Mr. Alles immediately took over from William J. Callahan, who had been acting director since the departure in early March of Joseph P. Clancy, who resigned so Mr. Trump could select his own director.
Mr. Alles, the first Secret Service director in at least 100 years not from the agency’s ranks, has his work cut out for him in rebuilding confidence — both within and outside the Secret Service. A series of scandals during the Obama administration, plus security lapses — most recently the March 10 breach of White House security in which an intruder roamed the grounds for nearly 17 minutes — has tarred the agency’s image. Changes were put in place under Mr. Clancy, and the agency performed well during last year’s taxing presidential campaign. But employee morale is low, and attrition has been a problem as the service has been stretched thin in trying to keep up with the demands of protecting Mr. Trump as well as his wife and young son, who live in New York, and his adult children, who travel the world on private business.
How successful the Secret Service will be in trying to get extra funding for next year — Post reporting puts the request for new monies at $60 million — is unclear. Some think what is needed is a reorganization of the agency’s investigative duties so that it can focus on protection. We hope Mr. Alles’s response to past failures will not be a further restriction of public access to Washington landmarks. The new leader’s mix of military and homeland security experience is generally seen as a plus, as is the fact he was pushed for the job by Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly. That Mr. Kelly has taken an intense interest in the agency — with the New York Times reporting him walking the White House grounds to figure out what happened March 10 — is encouraging. As congressional investigators wrote in their 2015 report labeling the agency in crisis, the Secret Service has a “zero-failure mission” to protect the president; any issues that threaten that mission demand attention.
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