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October 21, 2014

Posts in "Capitol Police"

October 20, 2014

Late-Night Terrorism Drills Test D.C. Officials

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Homeland security officials staged a shooting similar to the 2013 Navy Yard tragedy. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Police in the District of Columbia responded to a staged suicide bombing shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, on the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center site in Northwest Washington.

“Where’s everybody going? Can you help us?” a woman shrieked from a curb near the scene of the explosion.

The actress whimpered, putting on a dramatic display for observers from the FBI and other government agencies watching one act in the District’s full-scale overnight emergency preparedness drill from a nearby hilltop.

The cop who rescued the actress rushed back up to the doorstep of the brick building, avoiding the body of another faux victim who did not survive the blast. Within minutes, a firetruck pulled up and firefighters unrolled a hose, preparing to decontaminate the area in case the improvised explosive device turned out to be a chemical bomb.

“Anybody who can walk comes this way,” instructed one of the first responders near the fire truck, after getting a rundown on casualties and injuries from an officer. So far, police had found at least seven victims in the staged terror activity, including some amputees.

The dramatic exercise was staged to test the District’s public safety capabilities. The emergency responders and actors from this scene would be followed in the next few hours by the hazardous materials team, bomb squad and other specialized teams who would be reacting to multiple terrorists attacks for the training event.

Full story

October 15, 2014

Capitol Police Replenish Their Ranks After Hiring Freeze

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Sogoyou, a U.S. Capitol Police recruit, works out during a training session at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Cheltenham, Md. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

CHELTENHAM, Md. — Forearms pressed into the black asphalt, the Capitol Police’s 179th class of recruits shook and dripped with sweat in their third minute of planks. It was near 10 a.m. on an 80-degree morning in mid-September, and since 7 a.m. they had been performing squats, crunches and a particularly grueling training drill requiring them to drag a 165 pound dummy 40 feet.

“Is this what you want to do for a career?” yelled a trainer walking through the rows, examining their form. “If it is, you’ve got to reach down and pull yourself up by the bootstraps.”

Actually, the 23 men and two women in their fourth of seven days at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center were wearing tennis shoes and department-issued navy blue T-shirts and mesh shorts. These recruits, among the 110 selected this year from a pool of 7,000 applicants, were drawn to a Capitol Police career for its prestige, exciting assignments and the benefits of a federal job with a starting salary of more than $56,000. But the message was clear. Full story

October 6, 2014

Gainer: Better Communication is the Lesson From Navy Yard Shooting

gainer 01 011211 524x335 Gainer: Better Communication is the Lesson From Navy Yard Shooting

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Last fall’s massacre at the Navy Yard taught Capitol Hill law enforcement important lessons about front-line response and securing the chambers, according to former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer, who participated in a seminar on the subject Monday as part of his new role with Securitas USA.

One big takeaway: “Get communications to the troops quicker,” said Gainer, who retired this spring after seven years as the Senate’s top law enforcement officer and more than 46 years in public service.

Gainer gave a warm welcome to Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who gave a keynote speech during the George Washington University event, reflecting on the response to the mass shooting. Lanier listed a number of regional police forces that helped with the Navy Yard response, including the Park Police and FBI — but not Capitol Police. Full story

October 3, 2014

One Year Later, Family Protests Miriam Carey Shooting on Capitol Hill

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Family and friends of Miriam Carey, who was killed last year by Capitol Police, protest her death on the West Front of the Capitol on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congress has slammed the Secret Service for incompetency during the past week, but last year’s fatal Capitol Hill shooting involving officers from the agency received only a fleeting, neutral mention.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., spoke of the difficult job agents have making “instant life-or-death decisions in extremely stressful situations,” during his opening remarks in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing exploring failures by the Secret Service.

“Last year, for example, the Capitol Police shot and killed an unarmed woman with a 1-year-old girl in the backseat of her car,” Cummings said, referring to the Oct. 3, 2013, shooting of Miriam Carey. “Some praised their quick responses. Others criticized their actions. But they acted based upon their firsthand experience right here in the Capitol when another deranged individual burst through the doors and killed two Capitol Police officers,” he said of Russell Weston’s 1998 rampage.

Carey’s family hopes to rally critics on the first anniversary of the shooting for a silent protest planned for 1 p.m. near the James A. Garfield Monument southwest of the Capitol. Full story

October 2, 2014

You Can’t FOIA the Capitol Police

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Has Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., or Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, ever taken an elevator ride alongside an armed contractor with a criminal record?

The answer to that and other sensitive security questions about congressional protective details is hard to find, thanks to legislation enacted in 2004.

Capitol Police are exempted from having to release to another entity any information “that relates to actions taken … in response to an emergency situation, or to any other counterterrorism and security preparedness measures” unless they determine that releasing the information will not “jeopardize the security and safety” of the Capitol complex.

House appropriators inserted that language into the Legislative Branch Appropriations measure at the request of the department, according to reporting from this news organization and others at the time. A senior Capitol Police official said then that authority of the agency to withhold information had been challenged by various executive branch agencies.

The law shielded Capitol Police from having to provide information security plans to the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, CIA and other executive branch agencies that might submit Freedom of Information Act requests.

Counterterrorism information, such as actions related to anthrax or ricin attacks at the Capitol, could also be exempted. Asking for the exemption in 2004 bucked a post-Sept. 11 trend toward more information sharing among law enforcement agencies.

Nothing in the law prevents members of Congress or committees from obtaining information from the Capitol Police regarding operations and activities that affect the House or Senate.

Under the legislation, the Capitol Police Board — which consists of the police chief, architect of the Capitol, and both chambers’ sergeants-at-arms — has the authority to release information only if they determine it will not compromise safety of the buildings, grounds or any individual they protect. The board must act in consultation with law enforcement and security experts, plus appropriate congressional committees.

Capitol Police are authorized to protect members of Congress and their immediate family in any area of the United States, if the board determines such protection to be necessary. That includes the president pro tempore of the Senate, third in the line of succession to the presidency, after the vice president and speaker.

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September 24, 2014

D.C. Police Roll Out Body Cameras; None Planned for Capitol Police

graycam 330x330 D.C. Police Roll Out Body Cameras; None Planned for Capitol Police

Gray modeled camera-equipped glasses that are part of a D.C. police pilot program. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Congress escalated its calls for more transparency in law enforcement in the wake of the Aug. 9 shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., suggesting body cameras for police officers might improve public safety.

The District of Columbia government, however, has been looking at the technology for more than a year. Capitol Police have also been keeping tabs on the new technology.

Beginning Oct. 1, approximately 165 officers from the Metropolitan Police Department will be patrolling the District of Columbia outfitted with sleek recording devices that attach to their shoulders, head or chest. The pilot program has a $1 million budget and is expected to last six months. It involves officers from all seven police districts testing five camera models from three different vendors. Full story

September 23, 2014

Capitol Hill Staffer Arrested on Gun Charge Returns to Work

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Marino reinstated Shucard, who pled guilty to bringing a gun to Capitol Hill, as his press secretary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the D.C. Council moves forward with new, more permissive handgun legislation, the Capitol Hill staffer arrested on July 18 for carrying a 9mm to the Cannon House Office Building is back to work.

Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., reinstated Ryan Shucard as his press secretary this week, after the 26-year-old pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition under the terms of a plea agreement with U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen, Jr.

D. C. Superior Court Judge Milton C. Lee sentenced Shucard to 30 days in jail on Sept. 17, but suspended the sentence, meaning he would not be locked up. Shucard has been ordered to serve six months unsupervised probation, which means he is not required to report to a probation officer. He was ordered to pay $100 in court costs.

Marino’s chief of staff, Bill Tighe, indicated the congressman had been monitoring the situation carefully and wanted to let the legal process play out instead of acting with haste. He told CQ Roll Call that Monday was Shucard’s first day back at work.

Shucard was initially charged with carrying a pistol outside a home or business — a felony under D.C. law that carries up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Though bringing a gun to Capitol grounds remains, in most circumstances, a violation of federal and D.C. code, the District’s ban on carrying handguns in public was thrown into limbo when a federal judge declared it unconstitutional on July 26.

In the wake of the ruling, Machen proposed the plea agreement. Each charge Shucard pled guilty to carries a maximum penalty of one year of prison and a $1,000 fine.

The bill being considered by the council would allow D.C. residents and people with state-issued gun carry licenses to apply to D.C. police for permits, while placing strict limitations on where guns could be carried. Virginia, where Shucard lives, does not require residents to register handguns.

Shucard has said he mistakenly brought the Smith and Wesson gun, plus 9 rounds of hollow point ammunition, in his bag that Friday morning as he headed to work. Following the arrest — which put the campus community on alert — Shucard was immediately placed on unpaid leave. He told CQ Roll Call he loved his job and hoped to return to the Hill.

According to the Associated Press, Shucard said after the hearing that he was robbed in D.C. earlier this year, which set him on edge, so he took the gun for his protection while house-sitting in Alexandria.

Related Stories:

Capitol Hill Staffer Ryan Shucard Hopes Gun Charges Are Dismissed

Ryan Shucard Case Highlights Gun Law Discrepancies

Ryan Shucard Arrested For Bringing Gun to Cannon House Office Building

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September 15, 2014

Capitol Hill Employees Concerned About July 10 Asbestos Exposure

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Asbestos was also a concern in 2007, as shown by Scott Smith, U.S. Capitol Power Plant worker, during a House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee hearing on “Capitol Power Plant Utility Tunnels.” (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The asbestos emergency that temporarily closed the House side of the Capitol was a scary ordeal for Architect of the Capitol and Capitol Police employees working the overnight shift.

Union officials representing workers at both agencies told CQ Roll Call they are concerned about potential exposure to the human carcinogen, which can cause chronic lung disease as well as cancer. The Office of Compliance, an agency created by Congress to ensure safety in the legislative branch workplace, has been asked to inspect the incident for an alleged violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Asbestos fibers and other debris were released into the air around 2:30 a.m. or 3 a.m., when AOC contractors removing insulation containing asbestos from pipes and valves on the Capitol’s fourth floor had an accident above the East Grand Staircase. Most of Capitol Hill learned about the incident hours later, when doors to the House side of the Capitol were closed as engineers and certified industrial hygienists evaluated the scene. Full story

September 11, 2014

Homeless Man Arrested for Wreaking Havoc on Lower Senate Park

Water2 053002 440x276 Homeless Man Arrested for Wreaking Havoc on Lower Senate Park

(Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Police arrested a homeless man Monday afternoon in Lower Senate Park who seemed bent on destroying the serene scenery.

After witnessing the man kicking over trash cans and pulling sprinkler heads out of the ground, a bystander called police.

When officers arrived, the witness identified Micah Chinedu Irika, 39, as the vandal. Irika was placed under arrest at 2:37 p.m., according to a police report. He faces felony charges for destroying up to $1,000 in Architect of the Capitol property.

According to D.C. Superior Court documents, Irika also faces charges in a separate case for an alleged assault on a police officer and two counts of simple assault.

 

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September 9, 2014

Bayonets, Camo, Armored Vehicles: Senate Panel Criticizes Ferguson Response (Video)

ferguson 003 081414 440x305 Bayonets, Camo, Armored Vehicles: Senate Panel Criticizes Ferguson Response (Video)

Senators criticized police tactics used against Ferguson protestors. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

One month after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the Senate convened its first hearing on police militarization.

After watching a suburban street in St. Louis be transformed into a “war zone,” complete with camouflage, armored vehicles and guns with laser sight grips, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., sought answers on how the federal government played a significant role in “enabling” police to obtain the fatigues, weapons and equipment that were used against protesters.

McCaskill, who called for the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs panel hearing during the August recess, focused much of the discussion on civil rights. The two-term senator asked law enforcement witnesses why the gear might be helpful for the safety of police, but from the outset said she was “confident that militarized policing tactics are not consistent with the peaceful exercise of First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly.”

Full story

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