David Sims and Gretel Lauro have spent their entire careers on Capitol Hill, working a combined 63 years in the legislative branch. If that isn’t enough to cement them as an institution, their son, Aidan, has taken on the family trade by joining the Capitol Police.
While his parents got their start on Capitol Hill in their 20s, Aidan was first exposed as a toddler. He was in the first class of children enrolled at the House day care center, which opened on Second Street Southwest in 1987. And he spent Mondays and
Fridays when Congress was out of session in his parents’ offices.
“I basically grew up here,” said Aidan, 22. “For me, it makes sense to be here.”
Aidan received his basic training running the halls of Congress with David, a House photographer since 1970. The two would pop into a Member’s office or a committee room, David taking pictures with his son by his side. Later in the afternoons, they would visit Gretel in the office of Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), where she has worked since 1977.
“Aidan got to know the lay of the land when he was young,” David said. “I would take him around with me and he’d meet all the Members, and got to know the building. He used to run around the Capitol like it was a playground.”
Rather than playing, Aidan now is protecting the Capitol. He started a yearlong rotation on the Senate side in February after finishing several months of training in Georgia and Maryland. There, he learned weapons tactics, arrest procedures, terrorist response methods and diplomatic protocol.
“I never got to see what the CPD did before I joined,” Aidan said. “The department as a whole is far greater than what I expected it to be.”
Aidan said he hopes to move into diplomatic security, protecting visiting dignitaries and official statesmen. He got a chance on his third day of work when he was assigned to escort Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. With his parents on the other side of the Capitol, Aidan made a quick call over to his dad’s office to share the news.
“Parents don’t have that opportunity, for the most part, to have their kids nearby,” Gretel said. “I’m just happy to have him here.”
In the highly transient town of Washington, where most staffers stay on Capitol Hill just long enough to give their résumés some teeth, the family’s dedication to the Capitol is rare, she said. As lifetime Hill workers they are part of a small but tightly knit community made only closer now that Aidan is on board.
Tory Ebell, another longtime Hill staffer whose daughter, Julia, was in Aidan’s day care class, said Aidan’s early exposure to the Capitol Police likely prompted him eventually to join the force.
“The kids grew up on very friendly terms with the Capitol Police,” said Ebell, a caseworker for Rep. Terry Everett (R-Ala.). “They built a nice connection with the community on Capitol Hill when they were young.”
Aidan has run into a handful of his parents’ friends and co-workers since joining the Capitol Police. While he enjoys seeing the familiar faces and welcomes the support from veteran staffers, the youthful officer has had his embarrassing moments.
“It’s a little weird getting used to,” Aidan said. “I get the joke of, ‘Oh, how old are you?’ I have that baby face, and people who remember me still point that out.”
Gretel predicts that her daughter Aislan, a 17-year-old high school senior, will stray from the family tradition. But she notes how irresistible the Capitol can be.
“This is where the action is, it’s an invigorating place,” Gretel said. “The thing about Capitol Hill is that it’s like a little community, and everyone who is a part of it belongs here.”