Chairperson Lofgren Opening Statement at US Capitol Police Oversight Hearing
WASHINGTON, DC – –Today, Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) delivered the following opening remarks during a Committee hearing on "Oversight of the United States Capitol Police:"
“So good morning to our Members, witnesses and guests. This morning we will discuss the important work of the United States Capitol Police.
“Let me begin by saying thanking you and your families for your service to the Congress and the nation. We are grateful to you for your work every day.
“The United States Capitol Police and its men and women have a long history of service. To put this tradition in perspective, the Department is older than half of the 50 states. For nearly two centuries, its officers have protected those who work in and visit the Capitol complex.
“Two years ago, Mr. Davis and our other Republican colleagues on the Committee saw their bravery firsthand. When a gunman opened fire at a baseball practice, the lives of many of our colleagues were threatened, and Republican Whip Mr. Scalise was nearly killed. The intervention of the Capitol Police, and local law enforcement, undoubtedly made the difference that day. Despite being injured, Officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey helped save many lives.
“Next week, we will commemorate the ultimate sacrifice made by two other members of the force. July 24 will mark the 21st anniversary of the murder of Officer Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson, two brave Capitol Police Officers who gave their lives in the Capitol building protecting the Congress.
“The example of these four heroes is a powerful reminder that day in and day out, the women and men of the department dutifully stand watch, protecting Members, staff and the twelve million people who visit the Capitol Complex each year – ready to put them themselves in harm’s way if necessary.
“The officers of today’s United States Capitol Police have something in common with the first four members of the force back in 1828: A noble commitment to public service that could, in the blink of an eye, entail putting their lives on the line to protect others. But the 1,918 sworn officers and 366 civilian employees of today’s force operate in a vastly different world, with threats and challenges that sometimes seem to change by the day.
“This Committee’s job is to ensure that the Department, like any other legislative branch agency, successfully executes its core mission in a complex and changing world. Our witnesses here today represent the leadership of the department, including our representative to the Police Board, our brand-new Chief, the new Inspector General, and the President of the Union. Each of you has a vital role to play in keeping the Congress secure and operating.
“The Committee’s oversight includes ensuring the United States Capitol Police continue to critically review its policing practices to ensure those practices evolve and are refined based on best practices and new information. We want to make sure the department is focused on its core mission – protecting Congress – and has enough resources to do so.
“Threats to members are coming from new places, from the private messages of social media platforms to intense interactions at public events and town halls. We must understand how the department is adapting to the new threat environment. We also want to understand more about how the department is operating – from your intelligence collection and assessment, to your own internal cybersecurity practices and posture.
“Moreover, the Police, must seek to increase the diversity of its employees by establishing sound recruiting practices and sound employee diversity training. A diverse workforce is a strong workforce and investing in training and development will telegraph to the rank and file officers of the department that Congress is committed to investing in you and your career, and that there are more opportunities for you to compete for roles of increasing and different responsibilities.
“With respect to workforce issues, the Committee is concerned with the status of the relationship between the United States Capitol Police Executive Management and the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Committee. The current collective bargaining agreement was last ratified 3,325 days ago, on June 8, 2010, and negotiations to establish a new contract have failed to produce a new agreement. It’s our hope that labor and management come to the table and reach an agreement that’s fair for employees and productive for management.
“As the United States Capitol Police completes its second century of service to the Congress and the nation, it should be a bipartisan goal of this Committee and the Congress to ensure that it has the resources it needs and continues to fulfill its core mission. The Committee’s oversight of the department’s stewardship of those resources and continued development of its employees is one of our highest priorities.”
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