Military and Police

Dereliction of Duty: Protecting the President is Not a Political Choice, it is the Mandate of the Secret Service

By T. B. Lefever:

Look on your Facebook news feed. Campaign season is over, and a new president has taken office– is it still overrun with political discourse? Mine was taken over by politics a long time ago, and is as bustling with the good, the bad, and the ugly of all things related to Donald Trump. For better or worse, that’s the way it is.

I’ve got one guy who posts a “Trump of the Day.” Every single day, he posts a different depiction of the President, ranging from satirical and caricature-like to the vulgar and disturbing. Last week, it was Trump as a baby with a soiled diaper. A few days ago, it was Trump’s face on a weird half-man, half-pig body. Oh, the pigs. There have been so many pigs. Today, he posted a tombstone with Donald Trump’s name on it. He’s been doing it every day since the morning after the election.

It was also reported last Tuesday night that the United States Secret Service is investigating one of its own for her social media exploits. Kerry O’Grady, the special agent in charge of the United States Secret Service Denver Office, is in some hot water for her own Trump-related Facebook activities, and the internet is having a ball with it.

If you type “Kerry” in the Google search box, “Kerry O’Grady” is the number one result to auto-populate. I’d like to congratulate you, Kerry, for being the world’s most searched person to hold your name, and for the dumbest reason ever. Kerry O’Grady, a top agent in Denver, achieved infamy with the kind of ill-advised Facebook post that opens up a door that the internet will never allow to close. The post read like this:

As a Secret Service Agent for 23 years, I struggle to not violate the Hatch Act. So I keep quiet and skirt the median. To do otherwise can be a criminal offense for those in my position. Despite the fact that I am expected to take a bullet for both sides. But this world has changed and I have changed. And I would take jail time or a bullet over an endorsement for what I believe to be disaster to this country and the strong and amazing women and minorities who reside here. Hatch Act be damned. I am with her.

Generally, I don’t like to see anyone lose their job over their opinions. This is America, after all. But Ms. O’Grady, I really think you need to clarify something: as a person with a primary job function to protect national leaders and their families, did you really just say you would rather go to jail than take a bullet for Donald Trump? Of course, you are not legally obligated to do so for any president—but here you admit so explicitly that you are expected to. It is ingrained in the very ethos of the organization that entrusts you with a prominent leadership role as a SAC. How can you continue to lead now that you have outed yourself in this manner?

Let’s get into the Hatch Act, which is only out-searched by “hatchimals” when “hatch” is typed into Google search thanks to you, Kerry. The Hatch Act states that employees in agent O’Grady’s position:

“May not post a comment to a blog or a social media site that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.”

“May not use any email account or social media to distribute, send or forward content that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.”

It turns out when your main job function is to keep the President of the United States from getting hurt, you’re not supposed to go online and tell the world that you are unwilling to put yourself in harm’s way to protect them. Imagine that. For those who may say President Trump was not the President at the time of the post, it is well-documented that agent O’Grady continued to stand against him long after. Recently deleted posts in support of the Women’s March, “nasty woman” hashtags, and a personal message insinuating that the President is moving the country in a direction of “bigotry, misogyny, and racism” reveal what she has been up to since Trump took office. As a result, several Secret Service agents have filed formal complaints.

I was raised by a cop. I honor and respect what law enforcement professionals do at all levels. Whether it be a local police officer strapping on a vest in a small town making just enough to get by, a state trooper riding the highway and getting drunks off the road, or a Secret Service agent protecting people who would probably never reciprocate if the tables were turned, I believe there is a special cloth we are made of that sets us apart. It’s a damn hard path we’ve chosen.

On top of all the things that could go wrong when we do everything right, we constantly traverse a minefield that shows no mercy when we take the wrong step. I’ve seen cops get themselves fired for DUI, domestic violence, and disorderly conduct arrests made by our fellow officers. I’ve seen us get ourselves canned for lying about the littlest things, getting involved with the wrong man or woman in our personal lives, and yes, I’ve seen us lose our careers for unsavory social media posts.

I almost always want to give the benefit of the doubt to my brothers and sisters when they make a mistake, because in the gray world we live in, we often get erased when we don’t choose correctly between black and white. I’ve seen some great ones come and go prematurely as a consequence for that one colossal mistake that turned their world upside down.

As much as I want to afford this agent her First Amendment rights, I sit here thinking about what she has publicly stated about her President, and I wonder how she can continue to serve in her current position. Agent O’Grady, I feel you have tarnished the badge you represent not by stealing, lying, or taking advantage of the vulnerable, but rather because you’ve expressed that you are unwilling to objectively perform the primary job function you are responsible for. To me, it is the equivalent of a police officer publicly stating that they would refuse to protect a member of the community simply because of differing political views. You refer to yourself as a public servant. In all levels of our chosen field, we have taken an oath to protect that comes with that title. Can you still inspire others who work beneath you to do that?

Officials at the United States Secret Service put out a statement that the incident is being investigated. It does not bring me joy to say this, but I do hope they decide to terminate this agent for the good of the agency, the President, and national security in general. It is no secret to anyone that we as a nation are as divided as we’ve ever been. If we cannot maintain a showing of civility at the highest levels, what message does that send to the rest of us?

T.B. Lefever is an OpsLens Contributor and active police officer in the Metro-Atlanta area. Throughout his career, Lefever has served as a SWAT Hostage Negotiator, a member of the Crime Suppression Unit, a School Resource Officer, and a Uniformed Patrol Officer. He has a BA in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Rutgers University.

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T.B. Lefever

T.B. Lefever is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and active police officer in the Metro-Atlanta area. Throughout his career, Lefever has served as a SWAT Hostage Negotiator, a member of the Crime Suppression Unit, a School Resource Officer, and a Uniformed Patrol Officer. T.B. is also a certified Field Training Officer. He has a BA in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Rutgers University. Follow T.B. on Twitter @tblefever.

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