Threats against members of Congress up 400%, US Capitol police chief says

A day after a man with a baseball bat attacked two members of Congressman Gerry Connolly’s staff, the U.S. Capitol Police Chief told a congressional committee that threats are increasing against members of Congress and that police ranks remain understaffed.

Chief Tom Manger testified Tuesday to the House Administration Committee that 484 officers have been hired in the past two years, but the agency remains understaffed.

“The department has faced numerous challenges we’ve had to manage through delayed recruitment efforts due to COVID-related closure of the federal law enforcement Training Center that essentially brought our sworn hiring to a halt for nearly a year,” Manger told the panel. “Also low morale and the public’s declining confidence in law enforcement have put a further strain on the organization since the start of the pandemic.”

Manger said although hundreds of officers have been sworn in during the past two years, the number of officers remains below the department’s authorized level, which is happening at a time when he said the number of threats has grown.

“One of the biggest challenges we face today is dealing with the sheer increase in the number of threats against the members of Congress. It’s gone up over 400% over the last six years,” Manger said.

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Congressman Joe Morelle, a Democrat from New York, said Monday’s attack on Congressman Connolly’s aides at his Fairfax office is a reminder of the threats and the role of Capitol Police.

“I know we’re all thinking of those staffers today, and I pray they make a swift and full recovery. But the incident underscores how important it is, that the Capitol police have the resources they need to protect us,” Morrelle said.

Chief Manger told the committee that the recent spate of attacks, including the assault of a member of Congress in her D.C. apartment building, the attack on a campaigning congressman in New York last year and the attack on the husband of Nancy Pelosi at their San Francisco home, demonstrated that the Capitol Police needs to become a more protective agency, rather than a traditional police department:

Manger advocated for a police force “that concentrates on protecting members and their families throughout the country, not merely in Washington, D.C. Upcoming conventions, upcoming elections and the increasingly heated political rhetoric further heighten the prospect of future security risks and challenges that the department will need to be prepared to meet,” Manger said.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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