Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 18, 2015

Posts in "House Sergeant-at-Arms"

March 26, 2015

Congress Not Pushing Back on July Fourth Security Crackdown

Oh, say will you still be able to see from the Capitol? (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Oh, say will you still be able to see from the Capitol? (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hill staffers would be the people most affected if Capitol law enforcement cracks down on Memorial Day and Fourth of July parties. That might be why members of Congress do not seem to be pushing back on a March 12 letter from the Capitol Police Board.

While lawmakers dismissed past proposals to limit access to the so-called “people’s house,” such as building a fence around the 276-acre complex, as former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer recently suggested, this most recent recommendation might prove more popular. Full story

February 25, 2015

Officer Morale a Hot Topic for Capitol Police at Appropriations Hearing

The U.S. Capitol Police Recruit Officer Class 177 is sworn in during a ceremony in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Wasserman Schultz worries low morale among Capitol Police could distract from protecting the complex. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Low morale among Capitol Police was a hot topic for law enforcement officials on Wednesday during a series of panels convened by the House lawmakers who set the department’s budget.

Both House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving and Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine fielded questions about low officer morale from longtime Legislative Branch appropriator Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the subcommittee’s top Democrat. She professed a “notable uptick” in the number of officers pulling her aside on the Hill to chat about internal department issues. Full story

February 23, 2015

Capitol Police Chief’s Leadership Questioned

Under Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine, right, the department is pursuing accredidation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The State of the Union car chase has put Dine’s leadership of the Capitol Police under scrutiny. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The State of the Union night car chase that ended without arrest added new strains to already tense relationships inside the law enforcement community on Capitol Hill.

Capitol Police officers who were disturbed and embarrassed by the Jan. 20 incident allege it’s part of a frustrating pattern. They say commanders have instructed the rank and file to refrain from “low-value” stops — including traffic violations involving drunk driving and drug impairment on streets around the Capitol campus, multiple sources confirmed — because those arrests do not contribute to thwarting terrorism and protecting Congress.

Within the Capitol, House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank J. Larkin were frustrated when they were unable to get an accurate portrayal of the facts about the high-speed chase that ended on Washington Avenue Southwest, adjacent to the Rayburn House Office Building.

Full story

January 26, 2015

White House Drone Raises Questions About D.C., Capitol Policy

Sen. Leahy brings a drone to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy brought a drone to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A small drone found on the White House lawn caused some lawmakers to question the Federal Aviation Administration’s drone policy in the District of Columbia Monday.

“The Secret Service cannot handle the threat of drones without further Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations that update the interpretation of the no-fly zone to include such unmanned aircraft,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said in a statement Monday. Full story

January 15, 2015

House Sergeant-at-Arms: Congress Is a Top Terrorist Target

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the Capitol Hill community digests news of a foiled ISIS-inspired plot to bomb and shoot the complex, law enforcement officials are reminding congressional offices the Capitol is a top target for terrorists.

“Most of you have seen media reports about yesterday’s arrest of a man in Ohio who allegedly was planning an attack at the U.S. Capitol,” stated House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving in noon alert to Capitol employees and staff that was obtained by CQ Roll Call. Irving states that the public, and in particular the congressional community, “was never in danger during the investigation.” Full story

October 24, 2014

Gainer’s Capitol Fence Is Not a Popular Concept

Securing the perimeter of the Capitol's open campus is a challenge for Capitol Police. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Securing the perimeter of the Capitol’s open campus is a challenge for Capitol Police. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The idea of building a security fence around the Capitol appears just as unpopular now as it was a decade ago, when then-Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer pitched the idea to Congress.

In 2004, House appropriators added language to the legislative branch appropriations bill to prohibit Capitol Police from spending public dollars on the project. At the time, amendment sponsor Sam Farr, D-Calif., said a fence “really hurt the image and understanding of what a democracy is all about.”

Gainer, who retired from his post as Senate sergeant-at-arms in the spring, is again talking about erecting a “tasteful fence” about a block around the Capitol that would allow people to get screened before entering the campus, but current law enforcement officials aren’t commenting and elected officials aren’t biting. Full story

October 23, 2014

Do the Capitol’s Sergeants-at-Arms Carry Guns? (Video)

Former Senate Sergeant at Arms Terry Gainer, left, at the Capitol in Aprils with predecessors Al Lenhardt and William Pickle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Gainer, left, at the Capitol in April with his predecessors Al Lenhardt and William Pickle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Members of the Canadian Parliament are praising as a hero House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, a former police superintendent, for his reported role in taking down the gunman who entered the building. Capitol Hill may be wondering if its own sergeants-at-arms usually pack heat.

“I didn’t carry it all the time,” former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer said on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” Thursday morning. “I had it close at hand in a locked compartment.”

Gainer, who served as chief of the Capitol Police before his seven-year gig in the Senate, said he frequently relied on the uniformed officers of the department. “We have concentric circles of security around here and so they are the first line of defense, but as the chief law enforcement officer, I was armed when I needed to be or thought it was appropriate,” he said.

Full story

October 22, 2014

Former Top Cop Suggests Capitol Complex Is Too Open (Audio)

Congress’ former top cop thinks there should be major changes to security at the 276-acre Capitol complex, saying its open and accessible campus is “much to my chagrin.”

Terrance W. Gainer said in an interview he would add gates around the Capitol perimeter and consider re-routing traffic around campus. Gainer made his comments as a federal judge ordered Omar Gonzalez to undergo a mental health evaluation within the next 30 days to determine whether he is competent to stand trial on federal and local charges of infiltrating the White House on Sept. 19. The case is causing major repercussions for the Secret Service.

It also prompted Gainer, the former Senate sergeant-at-arms who also served four years as the chief of the Capitol Police, to frankly address the challenges for guarding the complex against intrusions.

“One of the challenges the chief has, or the director of the Secret Service, is keeping everybody sharp all the time,” Gainer told CQ Roll Call. “Up on Capitol Hill we have, you know, 25,000 employees and 3 million visitors so it is very open, and keeping the officers alert and active, you know, is an important challenge.”

Full story

October 9, 2014

Congress’ Doctor: Ebola Precautions Are in Place

On Sept. 11, Senate Chaplain Barry Black prayed for relief from Ebola during an event in the Senate Swamp. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call FIle Photo)

On Sept. 11, Senate Chaplain Barry Black prayed for relief from Ebola during an event in the Senate Swamp. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call FIle Photo)

With fear of an Ebola outbreak on the rise, the attending physician of Congress is assuring the congressional community that a carefully developed protocol is in place at the Capitol to handle a potential infectious disease outbreak.

In an eight minute video posted on an internal website, Dr. Brian Monahan gave an overview of Ebola’s spread and said the medical personnel at the Office of the Attending Physician “always take standard precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis.”

That includes basic hand hygiene and using protective equipment to block splashes or other contact with bodily fluids when treating everyone from sick senators to injured tourists. The attending physician operates 10 clinics, located in the Capitol, the House and Senate office buildings, the Supreme Court and the Capitol Visitor Center. Full story

October 6, 2014

Gainer: Better Communication is the Lesson From Navy Yard Shooting

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(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

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