The U.S. Capitol Hill Police (CHP) are short-staffed and overworked as the number of officers leaving the force mounts on a daily basis, but Congress doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to address the problem.
There are 1,839 members of the CHP, which has lost three members to death this year. Officer Brian Sicknick died in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, while Officer Howard Liebengood took his own life a few days later.
Officer William Evans was killed on April 2, when Nation of Islam follower Noah Green slammed into a road barrier that Evans and Officer Kenny Shaver were manning. Shaver was seriously injured but survived, while Green was shot and killed by other CHP officers when he ran toward them while brandishing a large knife.
“That could happen to any single person standing out on a corner at one of our posts at any single time,” a CHP officer who requested anonymity told Roll Call.
“So, I think that’s what hit home for a lot of people. It’s not only hitting home to us, but our families are really suffering now because they’re fearing for our lives,” the officer continued.
That officer was one of a number who talked to Roll Call on condition of anonymity about morale and staffing problems that have come to a head since Jan. 6. Another officer told Roll Call he and his colleagues are on constant alert now to the possibility of unexpected attacks like Green’s that could be fatal.
“It’s terrifying. You know it makes everybody concerned about just every minute of being on duty, which sometimes you forget about,” the officer told Roll Call.
“And even now, you still forget about it but then it comes back to, you know, looking around and looking behind you and worrying about the cars going by,” the officer said.
The result, according to one of the officers interviewed by Roll Call, is a growing wave of resignations.
“We’re already very short. People are quitting every day. Basically, every single person I know is looking for another job. Just applications everywhere,” the officer said.
A March 5 report by a task force appointed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and headed by Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Russell Honore described a situation on the morning of Jan. 6, when the CHP was “understaffed, insufficiently equipped and inadequately trained to secure the Capitol and Members when violently attacked by a large mob.”
The report said there were more than 230 vacancies on the CHP and said “a vast amount of overtime” was routinely required to fulfill minimal mission requirements.
More than 750,000 overtime hours were used by CHP officers in 2020 and as a result, the report encouraged Congress to enact funding to expand the force by more than 800 new positions, including “intelligence specialists, operational planners, supervisors, Civil Disturbance Unit (CDU) personnel and trainers, and dignitary protection agents.”
So far, Congress hasn’t moved much in response to the Honore report. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said in an April 5 statement that “when Congress returns to Washington, we will act to ensure the safety of the Capitol and everyone who works there.”
She was referring to the fact Congress is currently on its Easter recess and will return to the nation’s capital to resume work on April 13.
The House Administration Committee, which has oversight authority for the daily management of the Capitol complex, has yet to hold a hearing on the recommendations in the Honore report.
A spokesman for the committee, which is chaired by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), the ranking Republican on the administration panel, has been highly critical of Lofgren for not convening a hearing on the Honore report.
“It’s been exactly three months since the attack on our Capitol and this committee has yet to hold a single hearing on this issue,” Davis said in an April 6 statement.
“The Senate is working in a bipartisan way to address security and the House should be doing the same. If we do not, it will be another failure of leadership.
“These changes are going to take time to implement, but nothing can be done until we do our work. The men and women serving in the U.S. Capitol Police deserve at least that much.”
Congressional correspondent Mark Tapscott may be reached at email@example.com