After Capitol Police Missteps, Congress Looks the Other Way

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The makers of the Glock boast that the pistol is “precisely engineered to meet the demanding specifications of military and law enforcement agencies worldwide.” It’s just the sort of item that should never find its way into the hands of a child.

Yet that’s exactly what happened on March 24.

Cozy With the Cops

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)


James A. Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, notes that lawmakers often become close to the Capitol Police and those running it.

Marine Corps Fellow Arrested for Having Gun on Capitol Grounds

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:35 p.m. | Capitol Police arrested a member of the Marine Corps congressional fellowship program Tuesday afternoon for having a loaded gun on congressional property.  

Gunnery Sergeant Peter Boby was arrested after officers discovered loaded .45 caliber handgun in his vehicle during a routine vehicle inspection outside of the Rayburn House Office Building. USCP spokesperson Lt. Kimberly A. Schneider said in a statement, "At approximately 2:00 pm today at Washington Avenue and C Street, SW, USCP officers were conducting administrative security screening required for entry into the secure perimeter.  Officers discovered a loaded .45 caliber handgun in a vehicle." Boby was charged with carrying a pistol without a license, unregistered ammunition, and unregistered firearm. Schneider said he is being processed at USCP headquarters on D Street NE.  

Capitol Police Search Powers Provoke Constitutional Concerns

The April 11 suicide on the West Front shook tourists on the Capitol grounds. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The trio of congressional officials who have exclusive control over traffic rules on the Capitol grounds are ordering a change that would enhance Capitol Police's authority to search backpacks, suitcases and other personal belongings carried onto the 290-acre property.  

Under a section of code banning firearms, dangerous weapons and explosive devices, the language approved by the Capitol Police Board on July 15 states: "At the direction of the Chief of Police, the United States Capitol Police may search packages, bags, and other containers in the immediate possession of individuals who enter and are within the United States Capitol Grounds for the purpose of detecting prohibited items." Under current law, Capitol Police need probable cause to conduct such searches when they encounter suspicious individuals on campus. Even with that authority, they did not stop or search Leo P. Thornton on April 11, before he committed suicide on the Lower West Terrace.  

Intern to Police: 'I Didn't Think That Was in There'

(Scott J. Ferrel/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The intern arrested for bringing an unloaded 9mm handgun to work allegedly told Capitol Police, "I didn't think that was in there," after officers discovered the semi-automatic weapon in his bag Monday.  

Joshua Wheeler, 25, told police he had planned to go to the gun range with a relative over the weekend, "but didn't get to go," according to documents filed Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court. Wheeler claimed he saw the magazine in his bag before he came to work Monday morning, and took it out. An eyewitness said Wheeler stood “off to the side, digging through his bag” before joining the screening line at the New Jersey and C Street entrance of the Longworth House Office Building.  

Watch: Capitol Police Chief Testifies Before House Committee

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine testified Wednesday before the House Administration Committee on security at the U.S. Capitol. Dine’s appearance followed a CQ Roll Call report earlier this month that Capitol Police have, on multiple occasions, left loaded firearms unattended around the Capitol campus.  

You can watch the whole hearing below.  

Guns and Members, When Congress Protected Itself

Before there were Capitol Police to protect Congress (and leave their guns stashed in bathrooms ), lawmakers tended to their own security — and their own weaponry.  

And through much of the first half of the 19th century, whenever political tensions began to run high, guns were likely to appear on the hips of members. Jonathan Cilley, a member of the House from Maine, was killed in a duel by Kentucky Rep. William J. Graves in February 1838 over a dispute involving a bribery accusation Cilley made on the House floor.  

MPD Will Lead Capitol Shooting Death Investigation

Spectators gather near Peace Circle on the West Front of the Capitol to view officials process the scene of an apparent suicide on the Capitol grounds. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C., will lead the investigation of the death of a man who shot himself on the West Fron t of the Capitol on Saturday, according to Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine.  

Standing behind yellow police tape and in front of about 30 reporters at a 5 p.m. press conference at Pennsylvania Ave. and First Street NW, Dine said a male subject with a backpack and rolling suitcase walked along a public area along the Lower West Terrace at approximately 1:05 p.m. and "engaged in a self-inflicted gunshot wound."  

Shots Fired at Capitol (Updated)

Spectators gather near the West Front of the Capitol to view officials process the scene of an apparent suicide on the Capitol grounds. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:58 p.m. |  Shots have been fired on the West Front of the Capitol in an apparent suicide, Capitol Police confirmed Saturday.  

Capitol Police spokesperson Lt. Kimberly A. Schneider confirmed there was a "self-inflicted gunshot by neutralized subject." Schneider said multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Metropolitan Police Department and D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene.  

Social Media Policy Stirs Up More Trouble Within Capitol Police Ranks

Officers' use of social media is the subject of a controversial department directive. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sharing photos and posts about the scene of the March 7, 2014, crash that landed a silver car in a tree southeast of the Capitol got a few Capitol Police officers into trouble with the department.  

Disciplinary action taken against one officer who posted "stupid stuff" got employees curious about what the agency deemed unprofessional when it comes to social media use, according to Jim Konczos, chairman of the Capitol Police Labor Committee’s executive board. So the union asked department leadership to clarify. Nearly a year later, Chief Kim C. Dine has issued strict new guidelines on how employees can use Facebook, participate in online forums and comment on news sites, both on and off the clock. The mandate, effective on Feb. 19, has some officers combing through their accounts on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other sites to ensure they are in compliance. It has also sparked a grievance from the union, alleging the policy goes too far and infringes on officer's constitutional rights to free speech and free association.