Lawmakers overseeing U.S. Capitol Police are “troubled” by ongoing allegations of male officers receiving less-severe discipline for wrongdoing, and are awaiting findings from the Inspector General investigating the agency’s discipline process.
Roll Call reported Thursday a review of Capitol Police disciplinary reports shows a pattern of male members of the department — including commanders — receiving short periods of suspension.
The scrutiny is sparked by an ongoing gender discrimination lawsuit filed in 2016 by Officer Jodi Breiterman, who says her demotion was far more severe than punishment received by male counterparts.
Breiterman was demoted from sergeant for making inappropriate comments, exchanging allegedly inappropriate text message with her supervisors, and sharing with a CQ Roll Call reporter a photo of a gun that was left in a bathroom by another officer.
However, earlier this month, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of Capitol Police. Breiterman will appeal the decision.
In reviewing disciplinary reports, Roll Call says male officers received light punishment for allegedly using a department computer to solicit sex on Craigslist and taking photos of a partially nude woman in the back of a car. A male commander allegedly asked a female subordinate to have sex with him in his hotel room and received a light punishment for that..
In response to the allegations, Chief Steven Sund, who assumed leadership in 2019, said the allegations were thoroughly investigated and personnel disciplined when allegations were substantiated.
“To disparage the reputation of the entire Department based on alleged misconduct in a few isolated incidents is unconscionable,” Sund said, in the statement.
Lawmakers on committees that oversee Capitol Police are looking for change.
“I find such allegations very troubling,” House Administration Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren told Roll Call.
“The Committee held an oversight hearing on the U.S. Capitol Police last July and, in response to concerns that the disciplinary process within the Department has been handled on an inconsistent and disparate basis, I asked the Inspector General to review the Department’s discipline process late last year,” said the California Democrat.
“That review is ongoing,” said Lofgren. “The Committee will examine its findings closely, which will inform further Committee action.”