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September 23, 2014

Posts in "Capitol Police"

September 23, 2014

Capitol Hill Staffer Arrested on Gun Charge Returns to Work

marino 026 080112 440x295 Capitol Hill Staffer Arrested on Gun Charge Returns to Work

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

asbestos 03 080107 440x292 Capitol Hill Employees Concerned About July 10 Asbestos Exposure

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

Capitol Police Asking Officers About Talks With Media

Capitol Police authorities have been asking officers questions about media coverage of an alleged affair between a male deputy chief and a subordinate female officer, according to sources within the department.

Three union officials have been interviewed by an investigator from the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility about articles published in June, the sources told CQ Roll Call. The unit reports directly to Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine.

This summer, after the female officer was detailed to a coveted assignment that removed her from the deputy chief’s chain of command, rank-and-file officers suggested the department needed better oversight. Officers spoke to CQ Roll Call and other Capitol Hill news outlets on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal for violating a department policy that forbids talking to the media.

One source familiar with the interrogations said it is “not crystal clear” what the internal investigation is about because no respondent has been named. But that source, as well as others, said questions were related to the union member’s discussions with the media. The investigation might also extend to officers outside of union leadership.

The OPR investigates complaints from people inside and outside the department related to officer conduct.

Jim Konczos, chairman of the Capitol Police Labor Committee’s executive board, told CQ Roll Call he could not comment on an ongoing investigation. Secretary Greg Baird and Executive Chief Shop Steward James Myers have also been interviewed, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a public information officer for the department, said the organization does not discuss personnel matters. The policy exists to ensure the integrity of internal investigations and the privacy of employees.

The female officer’s temporary reassignment riled many officers. Union officials acknowledge that a formal grievance was briefly posted to an online union bulletin board that identified the deputy chief and alleged the woman was transferred in violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

Members of Congress with oversight over Capitol Police operations and the department’s budget told CQ Roll Call in June they were aware of the allegations of mismanagement. For instance, House Administration Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., said she was awaiting a report from the department’s independent inspector general before taking action. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., ranking member of the House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee, said Capitol Police made her panel aware of the accusations and that the panel would be examining the issue further.

Related Stories:

Capitol Police Under Scrutiny for Alleged Affair

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By Hannah Hess Posted at 5:05 a.m.
Capitol Police

September 3, 2014

Staffers Criticize Security Changes at House Garages

camaro003 050107 440x292 Staffers Criticize Security Changes at House Garages

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Staffers are criticizing a recent change in screening procedures at the House garages as ineffective and inconvenient.

They say the 100 percent congressional identification badge check wouldn’t stop someone from smuggling weapons or other illicit items into House office buildings, leaving that side of the Capitol complex less secure than the Senate or the Library of Congress, where drivers and passengers must pass through magnetometers.

A senior Republican aide told CQ Roll Call that when his non-Hill colleague was instructed to exit the car and walk to a pedestrian entrance, he left his backpack in the vehicle. The staffer parked the car in the Cannon Garage, and carried the backpack inside to his colleague.

“His bag is still not checked,” he noted. “My bags are not checked.”

Leaders of the House Administration Committee, who have oversight over the campus, indicated in late July that law enforcement was working to mitigate the problem at the House garages. Members of the Appropriations subcommittee that sets the budget for Capitol Police and the sergeants-at-arms said they dedicated funds in the fiscal 2014 spending bill to mitigate potential incidents in the garages.

House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., suggested there is a “fine balance” to contend with at the garages. He said it would be “unmanageable” to search every vehicle as it comes into each garage.

The ID check policy was announced in an Aug. 15 memo to members of Congress and staff from House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving. It went into effect the following Monday, Aug. 18.

Staffers and interns for members of Congress are not required to go through a background check to get ID badges. In both the House and the Senate, each congressman or committee chairman sets his or her own pre-hiring requirements and the terms and conditions of employment for the staffers and interns that are granted congressional ID badges.

Once they have vetted prospective staff members to their satisfaction, they request a congressional identification badge be issued to the individual by the Senate or House ID office. The same rules apply for credentialed members of the media galleries who are issued press badges.

 

Related:

In Wake of Recent Arrests, Security Tightens at House Garages

Members of Congress Acknowledge Major Security Gap at House Garages

U.S. Attorney Offers Plea Deals in Capitol Hill Gun Cases

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August 27, 2014

U.S. Attorney: Police Response to Navy Yard Killing Was a Clean Shoot

Navy Yard Shooting 10 091613 440x317 U.S. Attorney: Police Response to Navy Yard Killing Was a Clean Shoot

No criminal charges will be filed against the officers who responded nearly a year ago to the Navy Yard shooting, U.S. Attorney Office for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced Wednesday.

Law enforcement agents involved in the fatal shooting of 34-year-old Defense Department contractor Aaron Alexis acted in defense of themselves and others, prosecutors said in a statement released nearly a year after the day when 12 civilians were killed and four other people were wounded, including a Metropolitan Police Department officer.

“After a careful review of the evidence, we have closed this investigation,” Machen said. “We concluded that the law enforcement officers involved demonstrated exceptional valor in acting to protect the lives of Navy Yard employees and other responding law enforcement officers.” Full story

Ryan Shucard Still Negotiating With Federal Prosecutors

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Shucard hopes to return to Capitol Hill. (via Facebook)

During a Wednesday appearance in D.C. Superior Court, Capitol Hill staffer Ryan Shucard did not agree to a plea deal offered by federal prosecutors.

The press secretary for Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., who was arrested July 18 when Capitol Police discovered a 9mm handgun and magazine in his bag, seems to be negotiating for a better deal with the government. Defense attorney Jason Kalafat said he was still “finalizing work, trying to resolve this matter,” and asked that the case be continued.

Shucard has been charged with carrying a pistol outside the home, a felony that carries up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. In the wake of a federal court ruling that struck down the District’s ban on carrying handguns in public, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. offered Shucard an agreement under which he would plead guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition — two charges that each carry a maximum penalty of one year of prison and a $1,000 fine.

“We’re still negotiating, and hopefully will have it wrapped up within the next week or two,” Kalafat told CQ Roll Call.

Shucard sat solemnly next to his mother until his case was called around 11:15 a.m. He agreed to return Sept. 10, the same day Ronald Prestage, another man arrested for bringing a gun to Capitol Hill, is scheduled to be in the downtown courthouse. Shucard has indicated he wants to return to Marino’s office once the matter is settled. He remains on unpaid leave.

Related stories:

U.S. Attorney Offers Plea Deals in Capitol Hill Gun Cases

In Wake of Recent Arrests, Security Tightens at House Garages

Capitol Hill Gun Case Delayed in Wake of D.C. Ruling

Ryan Shucard Arrested for Bringing Gun to Cannon

Webb Aide Could Get 5 Years

Gun-Related Arrest Is Nothing New for Capitol Police

Scarce Prospects for Senate Shooting Down D.C. Gun Control

D.C. Could Become Nation’s Most Permissive Gun Jurisdiction, Under House Proposal (Video)

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August 26, 2014

U.S. Attorney Offers Plea Deals in Capitol Hill Gun Cases

photo 4 247x330 U.S. Attorney Offers Plea Deals in Capitol Hill Gun Cases

Prestage was arrested last month for allegedly carrying a firearm into the Cannon House Office Building. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. has offered plea deals to two men who allegedly carried 9mm handguns and ammunition to Capitol Hill in July.

Both Ryan Shucard, a staffer in the office of Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., and pork and turkey executive Ronald Prestage face charges of carrying a pistol outside a home or business — a felony that carries up to five years in prison and $5,000 fine.

Court documents filed in both cases show that Machen has proposed an agreement under which each man would plead guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of one year of prison and a $1,000 fine. Under the terms of the nearly identical deals, filed on Aug. 15, federal prosecutors would not pursue any other weapons charges, and would reserve the right to allocution, or addressing the court, at the time of sentencing. Full story

August 23, 2014

Capitol Police Pay Tribute to First Line-of-Duty Death

eney 003 081809 440x294 Capitol Police Pay Tribute to First Line of Duty Death

Vivian Eney Cross, left, is escorted by then-Capitol Police Chief Philip Morse during a 2009 ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Thirty years ago Sunday, tragedy struck the Capitol Police.

Sgt. Christopher Sherman Eney, 37, was fatally shot in the lower back at the conclusion of a training exercise designed to help the officers prepare for hostage situations.

Capitol Police had been performing the drill with blanks loaded into the weapons, Roll Call reported at the time, but the officers had reloaded with live ammunition at the end of the exercise.

Full story

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