A look inside the U.S. control room. A small group of Capitol Police officers were going about their Friday morning routines, cycling through live feeds from the department’s 1,800 cameras used to monitor the Capitol complex and other areas around when one of them paused to take a look at something. A screen over 3,000 miles away showed police lights flashing outside the residence of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), according to authorities.
The Washington, DC, cop. Immediately started pulling up footage from other cameras in the area of Pelosi’s house and going back in time to observe the minutes before the San Francisco police arrived. According to three sources familiar with how Capitol Police learned of the break-in and who have either been briefed on or seen the footage, it can be seen that a guy with a hammer breaks a glass panel and enters the speaker’s house.
Charges of attempted murder of the speaker’s spouse and attempted abduction of the speaker, who is second in line to the president, stem from the 911 call and the subsequent battle inside the residence. With an unprecedented number of threats against them, the event has also highlighted the enormous — and maybe impossible — responsibility of law enforcement to safeguard the 535 members of Congress.
Several current and former law enforcement officials told The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity that the Capitol Police had the greatest chance of stopping an assault against Pelosi’s house of any member of Congress.
More than eight years have passed since the Capitol Police initially put cameras outside of Pelosi’s house; she has a 24-hour security team; and for many months after the assaults on January 6, 2021, a San Francisco police vehicle sat outside of her home day and night. Officers in Washington, DC, suspended round-the-clock surveillance of camera feeds outside Pelosi’s residence a few hours after she departed San Francisco for Washington D.C. last week.
Nearly two years after the assault on the Capitol, the balances that members, their families, and security authorities have sought to strike are reflected in the targeted protection and absence of full-time, active monitoring, even at the house of the member of Congress with the most death threats.
Enhancements to officer training, equipment, procedures, and personnel are just some of the more than a hundred security measures the Capitol Police have been attempting to adopt after receiving recommendations from outside experts. Threats against members of Congress have increased tenfold, since they often visit their districts and travel across the nation, and the department has had to deal with both trends concurrently.
While there have been advances, such as the department’s plans to employ 280 more officers this year, Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement on Tuesday that the country’s “political atmosphere” would need “additional layers of physical protection.”
Manager said the department would prioritize bolstering the existing “redundancies” in security for congressional leaders, but he would not detail what they were since they needed to be kept secret for maximum effectiveness.
As a result of the assault on Paul Pelosi, legislators have had informal discussions about putting new security measures in a government spending package that has to be passed by mid-December. Manager’s comments on Tuesday raised the stakes, but Democratic members and advisers in the House of Representatives admitted that legislators are unlikely to draft measures until after the midterms.
Legislators have been the target of an alarmingly rising number of threats in recent years. The number of reported threats of violence against parliamentarians has increased from about 900 in 2016 to 9,625 in 2021, after Donald Trump was elected president. However, throughout this time period, federal authorities pursued criminal prosecution in just 7%-17% of instances brought by the Capitol Police.
After the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and the 2017 shooting that targeted Republican lawmakers practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game and seriously wounded then-House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the Capitol Police twice instituted changes to member security (La). When they returned to their home districts after the massacre, legislators were given a budget of up to $4,000 to deploy security measures.
After January 6, 2021, House Democrats made it a point to remind Republican leaders that there wasn’t enough money in their campaign funds to pay for their own personal security or house improvements. In response, Congress has authorized increases to office budgets for individual politicians, enabling them to pay for private security to help them at events back home, and put aside roughly $5 million in a separate fund to provide for security modifications to their personal dwellings.
Legislators were eligible to receive up to $10,000 beginning on August 15 to install security systems in their houses. Members of Congress are encouraged to coordinate with Capitol Police or their local law enforcement to set up security measures such as surveillance cameras, motion detectors, panic buttons, and glass-break detectors in their offices and homes.