The Capitol Police wants to open new field offices in Milwaukee, Boston and Texas to help combat an increase in the number of threats against members of Congress.
Chief J. Thomas Manger revealed the plans Wednesday at a joint oversight hearing of the Capitol Police Board, telling lawmakers that agents who investigate those threats and protect congressional leadership are working more cases and more overtime.
“Due to the increased threat environment, our protective responsibilities have increased, requiring additional protection details, increased coverage of CODELs and field hearings, as well as other enhancements to our current protective details,” Manger said in written testimony.
The new field locations would increase the department’s footprint across the country and enable it to pursue more member threat cases, Manger said. The chief said the department has received money to open the offices but didn’t give an exact timeline on when that would happen.
Recent attacks against members, their families and staff have raised questions about security, especially away from Washington.
Senate Rules Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., responded “excellent” when Manger told her about the plans.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, expressed his concern about the prevalence of violence. “I fear we’re going to wake up one day and somebody is going to be killed,” Cruz said.
The department is on pace to get approximately 8,000 to 9,000 threat cases this year, according to Manger. There were 7,501 cases in 2022, 9,625 in 2021, 8,613 in 2020, and 6,955 in 2019.
An attack in October against Paul Pelosi, the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reawakened a growing concern in Washington about violent threats against high-ranking figures in politics and government.
In the past year, Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., was assaulted in an elevator in her apartment complex. A man barged into Rep. Gerald E. Connolly’s, D-Va., office in Virginia and assaulted his staff with a baseball bat. Former Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., was attacked on the campaign trail. A staffer for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was stabbed in Washington.
The department already has field offices in Tampa, Fla., and San Francisco, Manger said, because, “frankly, most of the threat cases we got” came from those states. He noted the department gets “a lot of stuff” in Texas and the “Northeast is always busy,” alluding to the Massachusetts location.
The hearing, held by the Senate Rules and House Administration committees, was the first of its kind since the 1940s and followed one of the Jan. 6 select committee’s recommendations, which, its final report, said joint hearings should be conducted with testimony from the Capitol Police Board.