The number of threats investigated by U.S. Capitol Police has dropped from a record high in 2021 — the year that a mob attacked the building — but the threat level remains near historic highs nonetheless.
The department investigated a total of 7,501 threats against members of Congress in 2022. That compares to 9,625 cases investigated in 2021.
“The threats against members of Congress are still too high,” USCP Chief Tom Manger said in a statement.
Prior to last year, the threats against lawmakers had been steadily rising:
- 9,625 in 2021
- 8,613 in 2020
- 6,955 in 2019
- 5,206 in 2018
- 3,939 in 2017
Manger said the steady rise in threats against members of Congress led his department to expand not only its investigative capabilities, but protection responsibilities.
USCP in 2021 opened field offices in Florida and California, the two states where there have been the most threats against members of Congress.
Last year, the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Paul Pelosi, was attacked at their San Francisco home by a man with a hammer. A police investigator later testified that the man said there was “evil in Washington” and indicated he had come to the home to attack Nancy Pelosi.
Manger said in a recent interview with WTOP that the threats remain a significant concern.
“It’s grown exponentially,” Manger said. “This is not breaking news, that our country is very politically divided.”
He said heated political rhetoric doesn’t make it any easier for his department to carry out its mission, “Because of the vitriol that goes on between opposing sides on different issues.”
Capitol Police said members of Congress from both parties are subject to threats and concerning statements. The number directed at each party’s lawmakers is similar.
The department has hired its own attorneys and detailed them to the U.S. Department of Justice to help deal with the unique type of threat cases faced by Congress.
In the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building, magnetometers were installed at the direction of Democratic leaders outside the doors of the House chamber. Lawmakers had to go through them in order to reach the floor.
But many Republicans complained about the added security measures, and several were fined for refusing to go through the metal detectors.
Republican Rep. Andy Harris, of Maryland, triggered a metal detector in 2021, when he was about to enter the floor and a gun was recovered.
Harris’ office later said the congressman and his family had been threatened by someone, and noted he possesses a handgun permit in Maryland. He did not take the gun into the chamber.
Members of Congress can keep guns inside their offices or have them on Capitol grounds, but only if they are unloaded and secured. Lawmakers are prohibited from bringing guns into the House or Senate chambers.
Republicans, after gaining control of the House in the midterm elections, had the metal detectors removed from outside the House chamber earlier this month.
Visitors to the Capitol must still go through metal detectors at various entrances to the building.