Obama names first woman head of US Secret Service

Julia Pierson in an undated photo provided by the Department of Homeland Security Julia Pierson joined the Secret Service in their Miami office

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US President Barack Obama has picked the first woman director of the Secret Service.

Julia Pierson, formerly Secret Service chief of staff, will succeed Mark Sullivan, who announced last month that he would retire.

The agency was caught up in a prostitution scandal last year during a presidential visit to Colombia.

The Secret Service investigates financial crimes, and protects the president and his family.

"Over her 30 years of experience with the Secret Service, Julia has consistently exemplified the spirit and dedication the men and women of the service demonstrate every day," Mr Obama said in a statement.

"Julia has had an exemplary career, and I know these experiences will guide her as she takes on this new challenge to lead the impressive men and women of this important agency."

Ms Pierson, originally from Florida, joined the Secret Service's Miami Field Office in 1983.

From 1988, she spent four years with the Presidential Protective Division.

Ms Pierson's appointment does not require confirmation by Congress.

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