Capitol Goes Briefly Into Code Orange Alert

Posted April 24, 2009 at 12:07pm

Updated: 1:23 p.m.

The Capitol was put on on a code orange alert Friday afternoon because of an airspace violation, but within a few minutes, the alert was over.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said that a plane strayed into the restricted area near the Capitol but that officials were able to contact the pilot and quickly clear the alert.

Police did not order an evacuation, but Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) ordered the Senate into recess. The House did not follow suit.

An orange alert is one step below a mandatory evacuation.

Such alerts happen occasionally in the Capitol, and response has gotten markedly better over the years.

For President Ronald Reagan’s funeral in 2004, lawmakers and staffers frantically evacuated the Capitol after a code orange alert.

Reid announced a code orange last year, and some staffers and Members left, while others stayed put.

But on Friday, most people seemed to stay put — as intended by police.