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Capitol Police Chief Retiring

Updated: 7:33 p.m.

After more than five years on the job and 28 years with the Capitol Police, Chief Phillip Morse will retire at the end of May for a private-sector job.

Morse did not reveal his new position, which he says he has already accepted.

In a statement sent to the department Monday morning, Morse said he had “mixed emotions” about stepping down.

“It was a difficult decision to leave a Department where I have spent more than half my life,” said Morse, who was 43 years old at the time of his appointment to police chief in 2006 — the youngest person to hold the post in the force’s 178-year history. “However, I feel that this is the right time for me personally and professionally.”

The Capitol Police Board said in a statement that it learned of Morse’s decision Monday.

“Chief Morse is a true professional, and the Board has enjoyed working with him,” said the statement from the board, composed of House and Senate Sergeants-at-Arms Paul Irving and Terrance Gainer, respectively, and Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers.

Gainer told Roll Call that the board will select an acting chief before Morse departs. He added that it will also have to decide whether to look internally for a permanent replacement or hire an outside firm to search nationwide.

In 2006, Morse was deputy chief before being tapped from a pool of 60 applicants, including former Assistant Capitol Police Chief Larry Thompson and Daniel Flynn, a former chief of the Savannah-Chatham (Ga.) Metropolitan Police Department.

Capitol Police Labor Committee Chairman Jim Konczos said he hoped that if the board decides to stay in-house, it considers Assistant Chief Tom Reynolds for the job.

“I don’t think the other deputy chiefs have the experience to do it,” Konczos said, “and Tom Reynolds is well-versed as far as the department goes.”

Konczos added, though, that going outside wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

Gainer also said he expects the board to consult with “all the stakeholders,” including the union and Congressional leadership.

Mixed Legacy

Among the highlights and challenges of his tenure, Morse oversaw the merger of the Library of Congress and Capitol Police forces in 2009 and hired the force’s first-ever diversity officer in 2010.

In 2011, he mobilized campus security after the Tucson, Ariz., shooting of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D).

His team also helped apprehend the individual behind the suspicious powder and threatening letters mailed to lawmakers earlier this year.

“[He] has maintained an exceptional level of security and has kept USCP in the forefront of anti-terror initiatives,” Reps. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) and Robert Brady (D-Pa.), chairman and ranking member of the House Administration Committee, which oversees Capitol Police, said in a joint statement.

But Morse has also been subject to Congressional scrutiny.

In 2009, appropriators balked at the rising cost estimates for replacing the Capitol Police’s aging radio system and questioned whether department officials had done their homework. The radios have not yet been replaced, with Morse recently saying they should be ready early next year.

In 2010, lawmakers threatened to strip the Capitol Police of the authority to manage its own finances after payroll miscalculations revealed a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall.

In 2008, Morse received considerable criticism for his leadership style from officers participating in a union-commissioned survey.

“We’ve had our disagreements, but personally, I like him, and I wish him the best,” Konczos said.

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