US Capitol Police chief on reform and public expectations

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody two years ago sparked nationwide protests and calls for police reform. U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger, who is finishing his first year at the helm of the department, said it’s up to police to rebuild public trust.

Manger began his police career in 1976 as a summer police officer in Ocean City, Maryland. He then rose to a six-year stint at the Fairfax County Police Department, and then 15 years as police chief in Montgomery County. The Maryland county named its public safety headquarters building in his honor.

Tom Manger, Karen Gibson, William Walker
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger, joined from left by Senate Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson and House Sergeant at Arms William Walker, takes questions as the Capitol Police Board meets with reporters ahead of the one-year mark of the Jan. 6 attack, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Manger offered a funny self-effacing view of the unusual distinction.

“I was very pleased that I didn’t have to die to get my name on the building. I guess when you stick around some place long enough, they want to do something nice,” Manger told WTOP Tuesday.

With more than four decades of experience in law enforcement, Manger shared his thoughts on changes in policing over the years and where things stand today.

“Police are better trained today than they’ve ever been; there’s more accountability than there’s ever been before. We do a better job at selecting the right people to be police officers … there are still challenges. There is still a lot of mistrust in the community,” Manger said.

Manger ended his retirement last July to lead the Capitol Police, following the Jan. 6 riot.

Manger said restoring public trust is in the hands of law enforcement — adding that trust can be regained when police can show they are well-intentioned in all they do, owning up to mistakes and fixing them.

“On the other side of it, the public has to understand that police are never going to be perfect, any more than any profession is going to be perfect,” Manger said.

Swearing in the newest recruit class of U.S. Capitol Police officer last Friday, Manger had some advice to the newly minted officers.

“I ask that you understand the commitment that you’re making — a commitment to being courageous in the face of adversity, a commitment to being fair and just to all, a commitment to the rule of law and a commitment to be honest and truthful in every aspect of your job,” Manger said.

“As a sworn law enforcement officer, your integrity means everything.”

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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