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Amid attacks on lawmakers, Capitol Police chief says force now nationwide 'protective agency'

The department's budget has more than doubled since 2015

Published: May 15, 2023 11:39pm

Updated: May 16, 2023 12:09am

The U.S. Capitol Police is evolving into a more "protective-oriented agency" for lawmakers and spouses inside and outside of the Washington, D.C. area, Chief J. Thomas Manger is set to tell Congress on Tuesday.

Manger will announce the agency's transition plans in a hearing being held by the House Administration Committee, before which he'll be asking for a 14% budget increase for fiscal 2024.

Such an increase would bring the department's annual budget to over $840 million, compared to $365 million in 2015.

"Now that the campus is reopened, the department is once again managing this increased level of visitor activity – all within the context of evolving and increasing threats against members of Congress and their families, and the need to provide protection nation-wide," Manger says in his prepared testimony, referring to Capitol Hill being largely shuttered by the pandemic and the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

The hearing, titled, "Looking Ahead Series: Oversight of the United States Capitol Police," will be held one day after staffers for Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly were attacked in the congressman's northern Virginia district office.

In his testimony, Manger refers to two recent attacks on unnamed lawmakers – likely Minnesota Democrat Rep. Angie Craig, who was attacked Feb. 9 inside the elevator of her Capitol Hill apartment, and then-New York GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin, while campaigning in July 2022 for governor.

Manger also referenced the brutal, October 2022, attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose skull was fractured during the incident by a hammer-wielding intruder.

He said such events "demonstrate how the Capitol Police need to transform to a more protective agency, one that concentrates on protecting members and their families throughout the country, not merely in Washington."

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, "approximately 429 officers have left the department, of which 358 left after January 6," Manger said. "So far, the department, with the support of Congress, has been successful in getting ahead of attrition, bringing on 484 officers. The current number of sworn employees on the department is 1,994 officers."

According to Manger, threats against members of Congress have gone up 400% over the last six years, which he said has highlighted the need for additional resources dedicated to the Capitol Police's Protective Services Bureau.

"We are on pace again this year to receive approximately 9,000 threat assessment cases. Threat Assessment agents carry an average annual case load of nearly 500 cases," he also says in the prepared remarks. "We must be able to hire additional agents to meet the workload demands and case backlog."

Manger informs the committee in the testimony that 89 of the Capitol Police Inspector General's post-Jan. 6, 2021 recommendations have been closed, leaving 14 remaining to be addressed.

Among the concerns was the department being adequately equipped and prepared for the rioters, who broke through police barricades, doors and windows to get inside of the Capitol building, within feet of senators and House members. 

Manger disclosed a series of improvements that his department has made, including, "procuring and distributing additional civil disturbance equipment to our sworn officers" and "obtaining funding for our Dignitary Protection Agents to travel and protect members of Congress."

He told the committee that the department has been installing "physical barriers at vulnerable vehicular access points on Capitol grounds and department-wide" and providing "specialty training such as civil disturbance and active shooter training."

The chief also said the Capitol Police has updated its technology to "enhance intelligence analysis and investigative capabilities," such as "providing iPhones to the entire sworn workforce for information dissemination."

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