Julia Pierson was sworn in as director of the Secret Service on Wednesday, making her the first woman to take the helm of an agency tarnished by scandal.
“Obviously, she’s breaking the mould in terms of directors of the agency, and I think that people are all extraordinarily proud of her,” President Obama told reporters at the Oval Office ceremony. “and we have the greatest confidence in the wonderful task that lies ahead and great confidence she’s going to do a great job.”
With the President holding the Bible, Vice President Joe Biden swore in the new Secret Service chief with Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano looking on.
“As Joe Biden already pointed out this person now probably has more control over our lives than anyone else, except for our spouses, and I couldn’t be placing our lives in better hands than Julia’s,” Obama said after the ceremony.
Pierson had been serving as chief of staff to Director Mark Sullivan, who retired in February. He faced striking criticism after agents were caught in a prostitution scandal last year in Cartagena, Colombia.
Although this marks the first time a woman takes over as head the Secret Service, Pierson already had an impressive 30-year career in law enforcement. She served for three years in the Orlando Police Department before joining the Secret Service in 1983, according to Central Florida News.
She excelled in federal service, first as a special agent in Miami, and later protecting the President for four years before moving into upper management roles.
Beyond the protection of the President and other national leaders, the Secret Service also investigates financial fraud and counterfeiting. The agency has a $1.5 billion budget and employs 3,500 agents and 1,400 uniformed officers, reports The Washington Post.
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